Second Life takes us into the strange world of the second life of bodies and what happens to the physical vessel after one dies. Elena Kelly is a body broker or “corpse wrangler,” one of the best in her field. When she became too ambitious, cut too many corners and too many ethical (and legal) safeguards, she ran afoul of the law and medical profession, triggering a huge scandal in Louisville, Kentucky that quickly went national. She lost everything – and now humbled and on a strict, three-year parole, she works as coroner’s assistant in Danville.
Elena is still trying to come to grips with her regret and guilt when she is unexpectedly drawn into the search for her former best friend’s missing body. Elena knows what can happen to a body that goes ‘missing,’ how it can be salvaged and used indiscriminately for spare parts, and she endeavors to seek salvation in finding Lia and bringing her body home, as complete as possible. Her desperate search drags her back to the underworld of the dead and pits her against a new and nefarious corpse wrangler – one more talented and deadly than she ever was.
Second Life pulls back the curtain on those who exist on the edge of the medical profession, the ones who remove skin and tissue and bones from the dead, for use by surgeons, medical students practicing technique, cosmetic surgeons, medical equipment companies and labs running medical experiments–anyone in need of muscle and ligament and bones. It philosophically explores our obligation to protect the dead and thrillingly examines what happens when we –literally– leave the land of the living.
Paul Griner’s Second Life confirms his remarkable ability to investigate, line by carefully etched line, that which is elemental, harrowing, and all-too-true. Read this unforgettable novel if you dare.
I’m a long-time fan of Paul Griner’s elegant wit; and, still, Second Life comes as a swift and resonant surprise. It is a smart and darkly glimmering story, a hold-your-breath thriller written in finely wrought prose, and a book that will spark a hundred conversations about risk and love and the dignity inherent to our gorgeous, short-lived, all-too fleshly forms.
Mesmerizing! Griner yanks the sheet off our delicate notions about life and death, revealing a frank, unsettling underworld of corpse industries and body harvesting. As if that weren’t enough, he does all this with an ever-keen eye and tremendous artistry. This book is an absolute feat.
This highbrow thriller . . . falls somewhere between the gruesome science of Mary Roach and the grim despair of Joe Connelly’s Bringing Out the Dead . . . with lyrical descriptions of the grotesque and the short, sharp shock of violence punctuating the scenes.
Griner’s terse, bruising prose amplifies the noir plot, as Elena gumshoes after a missing girl who just happens to be a corpse. Dark, twisty, and ultimately mournful.
[A] bone-chilling novel...
Griner pens an exciting thriller that illustrates the worst-case scenario of what might happen to a body after death . . . Griner’s novel will rev up the reader’s pulse as it pulls back the surgical curtain to reveal a hidden world of literal flesh peddling.
He’s starting us on a claustrophobic thrill ride that will regularly pick at our queasiness . . .. A chase-through-the-long-night hits all the required marks, with writing a cut above due to Griner’s handling of dialogue and poetic descriptive passages . . .