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Thinning the Herd
Tales of the Weirdly Departed

by Cynthia Ceilan

      This slightly macabre, delightfully irreverent collection of real life anecdotes, facts and observations regarding death is one most readers will find fascinating. At the beginning of a very short, two page introduction, Ceilan admits that "those of us who embrace a certain fascination with particularly odd ways of dying tend to shrug off suggestions that we might be a bit nuts. Deep down, however, we fear our friends and loved ones might be right."

That being said, she gets right to the task at hand, sharing some of the odd ways people have departed this world. From the contents found in the stomach of a 16-foot, half-ton crocodile villagers discovered in Jakarta to chronicling the passing of such well known figures as Al Capone, Albert Camus, and Mata Hari, Ceilan's research is certainly far ranging to say the least.

Not just humans are the subject of the author's vigorous digging into death. There's the story about a possum's unfortunate encounter with a power line in New Zealand that sparked a fire that threatened a ski resort, and the weird tale of an Oregonian who tried to shoot her husband but ended up blasting her favorite chicken away instead.

The section on sex-related deaths ("So Sexy It Hurts") is particularly bizarre, but rather than share a few of the "gems" in this chapter, I'll let you discover them for yourself! Note: The purported death in 1899 of French President Felix Faure explains why the French were so "unfazed" by Bill Clinton's sexual shenanigans!

Where, one has to wonder, does a person research a topic like this?

The Book

The Lyons Press
Non-fiction / MIsc / Death / Curiosities
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The Reviewer

Bob Walch
Reviewed 2008
© 2008