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AFTER LIFE


By Rhian Ellis

Viking Penguin, 2000
$23.95 hardcover
ISBN 0-670-89242-4

Reviewed by S. E. Warwick

This is not your classic mystery. Oh, the body appears on the first page, but it takes awhile to learn just how it came to be a corpse. It takes even longer to find how and why. Along the way, the corpse is almost forgotten in the bizarre reality that is the life of Naomi Ash.

Ellis creates Train Line, a town on the shore of a lake in western New York state that teeters on the brink of this world and some other. Brought there as a child by her mother, a medium fleeing her native New Orleans one step ahead of the law, Naomi eventually moves into the family business and opens up shop as a medium on her own. The other world is Train Line's bread and butter. Mediums are organized into a kind of guild with rules and entrance examinations.

Eventually, everything is revealed. The whole languid story moves like the muddy Mississippi but the trip is really the story, not the destination.

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