Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
Never Trust a Dead Man
Ages: 12 & up
Publisher: Harcourt
Book Description:

Wrongly convicted of murder and punished by being sealed in the tomb with the dead man, 17-year-old Selwyn enlists the help of a witch and the resurrected victim to find the true killer. 

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Review
Awards/honors
Where do you GET those ideas?
Excerpt
More Stuff

Review

* "Filled with engaging characters, witty dialogue, and lots of action, this is an entertaining blend of fantasy, whodunit, and comedy." -- School Library Journal (starred review)

Awards/honors

  • ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult readers
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  •  Edgar Award (Mystery Writers of America—Best Young Adult Mystery—2000)
  • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • Texas Library Association Texas Lone Star Reading List (2000 - 2001)

Where do you GET those ideas?

The idea for this story came when I was watching an old movie--Othello (the Orson Welles version from the 1950's based on the play by Shakespeare).  The movie starts with Othello already dead, and his men are bringing him out to be buried.  At the same time, they're carrying away Iago, the evil villain responsible for all the grief that's happened. 

For a moment as I watched I thought:  They're going to bury the two of them together, the dead Othello, and the still-living Iago. 

They didn't end up doing that--they put Iago in a little cage and hung that up from the battlements of the castle.  But I had that image of victim and murderer buried together, and I thought, "Yuck!" but at the same time I thought, "Cool!" and that was the start of Never Trust a Dead Man.

Excerpt

The bat--or Farold, or Farold in the bat's body--stood motionless for a moment. "That's right," it finally said. "I was murdered. That was how I came to be dead. I remember hearing you call me, and that's why I came back."

"Right," Selwyn said, glad to be back on the topic they needed to be on. "We called you here so that you could tell tell us who did it."

The bat that was Farold said, "I thought you called me here so that you could tell me."

"What?" Elswyth snapped.

"You don't know who killed you?" Selwyn asked in horror.

"I was asleep, you dumb twit. It was the middle of the night, and it was dark, and"--the bat beat at Selwyn's hand with its wings, as though forgetting that it had wings, and not hands--"if you had looked before starting all this, you would have seen that I was stabbed in the back."

Selwyn rested his forehead on the palm of his hand.

More Stuff


The Edgar award

 

Other covers by Tristan Elwell:

                            

 To see more of Tristan Elwell's work, visit his website.

 


Original paperback edition by Dell Laurel-Leaf (an imprint of Random House)