The Obituarist

Rated 4.57/5 based on 7 reviews
Kendall Barber is a social media undertaker with a shady past who's returned to the equally shady city of Port Virtue. Now a new client brings with her a host of dangers, just as Kendall's past begins to catch up with him. Can he get to the bottom of things before it's too late, or will he end up as dead as his usual subjects? More
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About Patrick O'Duffy

Patrick O'Duffy is tall, Australian and a professional editor, although not always in that order. He has written role-playing games, short fiction, a little journalism and freelance non-fiction, and is currently working on a novel, although frankly not working hard enough. He loves off-kilter fiction, Batman comics and his wife, and finds this whole writing-about-yourself-in-the-third-person thing difficult to take seriously.

Learn more about Patrick O'Duffy

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Reviews of The Obituarist by Patrick O'Duffy

Pól Ó Duibhir reviewed on Oct. 20, 2012

Enjoyed this no end. Keeps you guessing and thrashing about.

Interesting contrast to Paul Waters' book of the same title. Amazing how a single title can have two totally distinct and excellent plots.

These are my first trips into ebooks and I'm hooked.
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)
Paul Douglas reviewed on June 5, 2012

In The Orbituarist, Patrick O'Duffy tells a thumping good story about one Kendall Barber, a man whose business is closing down the online lives of the recently deceased. It involves wannabe gangstas, violent bikers, a slovenly detective, a dark and troubled past and a subject whose net history raises some tricky questions about how his life came to end... assuming that it really has.

It's noir, it's crime farce, it's Gibsonesque 'nowpunk' and it's well worth the three dollars it'll cost you.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
Margaret Wieringa reviewed on June 3, 2012
(no rating)
In The Obiturist, Patrick O’Duffy has put a new spin on the crime genre. It has the timeless quality of a classic film noir only set current day, with protagonist Kendall Barber closing down the online lives of recently deceased. This in itself raises a lot of questions about what happens once we’ve passed away, but throw in an element of mystery and some confusion and you have a compelling read. I hope O’Duffy revisits the world of Kendall Barber – I think he has more stories to tell.
(reviewed 19 days after purchase)
Andrew MacLean reviewed on June 3, 2012
(no rating)
I bought Patrick O'Duffy's novella weeks ago and gobbled it up in the space of two days. A story about a social media undertaker who settles accounts for dead people sounds like it might be something geeky and... well... dry. But O'Duffy has produced an action-adventure film-noir detective story that is, in fact, none of those things at all, and yet leaves you feeling like that's exactly the sort of book you've just read.

I'm not explaining this very well.

Which, I think, might be the point. O'Duffy has created a compelling character that cannot be pigeonholed, dropped him into situations that are unbelievable, yet plausible, and propelled him through events and locations that are unusual and yet strangely familiar.

It doesn't seem to matter how much I resist, I can't help but write "once I picked it up I could not put it down again".

Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)
damienwise reviewed on May 26, 2012

"The Obituarist" is a fabulous read -- part hard-boiled detective yarn, part contemporary e-thriller, and laced with a dark sense of humour.
This is Patrick O'Duffy's finest ebook to date, IMHO. Like his other works, this novella is tightly written; it zips along at a ripper of a pace.
If I had to be critical, the ending hits very hard and fast, though that does fit the with the style of the short, sharp shocks at the end of each chapter.
I'd like to read more about our resilient hero, Kendall Barber, and can only hope this is the first of a series.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Scott Vandervalk reviewed on May 24, 2012

Punchy opening. Punchy chapters. And a bit of punching.

The Obituarist is essentially a detective story, with Kendall Barber a social media undertaker for the recently deceased, that is to say, he cleans up their digital fingerprints after they've passed on. So with this neat little premise, the novella quickly introduces us to a world full of potential crime and stories. The Obituarist is sharp, funny, and playful. The mystery is deftly introduced, and from early on, we're thrown full tilt into Kendall Barber's 'case', and the gathering players soaring around him.

The Obituarist covers a lot of ground rather quickly and despite a few flaws, slides down like a good whiskey (single malt at that). O'Duffy pulls on the skin of the crime story quite comfortably. The Obituarist jumps through the right hoops for the genre - it has the familiar tropes, reveals and twists, but this is part of what makes it a fast, fun read anyway. The story has a mostly satisfying ending: with the A-plot a dash predictable, it still kept surprising me in little ways, and while I found myself much more engrossed in the B-plot, some twists sat right, and some didn't quite.

Ultimately, the novella gives an enjoyable and tasty teaser into the scary world of identify theft, and that of Kendall and Port Virtue (and I hope to see a bit more of their story in the future).
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)
Greg Stolze reviewed on May 15, 2012

I'm not objective about Patrick O'Duffy - we've worked together more than once, and he's a buddy. That said, I think one reason we're buddies is that we have similar aesthetics.

I was predisposed to like "The Obituarist" and I did. O'Duffy's writing is clean, clear and robust, without any wasted prose or self-indulgence. But despite its economy, it retains a lot of energy, humor and verve. It uses a classic film-noir structure -- a dame who's trouble the minute she walks in through the protagonist's door -- as a lens for a very modern story about cyber-theft, identity and (just a little bit) self-awareness. "The Obituarist" shares some DNA with Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, but O'Duffy never gets lazy about the details of modern crime in small town Australia. The details are always just right, fresh and precise, never borrowed or sketched in. And the characterization of Samosa is a minimalist joy.

(reviewed 7 days after purchase)
Ben McKenzie reviewed on May 10, 2012

A proper detective novel grips you from the opening, drags you through the mud and rain-slick streets and makes you want to scream "Who did it? Which of these bastards did it?! What happened to that guy???!!!"

The Obituarist does all that and more. A brilliant piece in voice, structure, wit and mystery, every chapter ends with a punch in the gut moment - literally, in one case. The lead character isn't a detective - he's the titular obituarist, a specialist in cleaning up the online detritus left behind when someone dies - but he has an office in Port Virtue, a scummy little town full of low-lifes; he lives an isolated, hand-to-mouth existence, has a client who walks in the door and turns his life upside down, and a dodgy relationship with the fuzz. He also has a unique voice, an irreverence, worldview and sense of humour that belongs very much in the 21st century, even as he flawlessly evokes a genre with roots eighty years old.

That's another thing about The Obituarist: this book isn't just a gripping detective story, defining a new sub-genre I have coined "Facebook Noir". No: it's also really funny. The situations are serious, but the prose and our protagonist are both whip-smart and funny as hell.

This is different in tone and structure from O'Duffy's other work, like the brilliant Hotel Flamingo, but his voice still shines through and leaves you both satisfied and wanting more. I hope he returns to Port Virtue for another dose, 'cos I'm hooked and I'm gonna need another fix.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)
Dave Versace reviewed on May 3, 2012

Patrick O'Duffy's smart little crime novella 'The Obituarist' started from a cool character idea: someone who makes a living from methodically closing down the online presence of the recently deceased on behalf of their technologically-challenged bereaved, setting up memorials on their social media sites, removing their personal information and subscriptions and shutting down opportunities for the theft of their identities. O'Duffy could have gone almost anywhere with so solid a concept. He plumped for a tight yarn of a week or so in the life of Kendall Barber, the obituarist in question, whose attempts to unravel the fate of his client's dead brother run afoul of violent bikers, slovenly cops and ambitious gangsters.

This is a wise-cracking, confident story that twists like a cracking whip and runs hot on a fuel of lies, secrets and hammer beatings. It's not too long that the pace starts to stretch believability, and at 20K words it's all too easy to inhale in a sitting. In a way that's good though, because I got to the end and immediately wanted to start it again. It's a different meal the second time through, but it tastes just as good.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
Kelly Clitheroe reviewed on May 1, 2012
(no rating)
Read it. Twisty turny and with enough plausibility to make you a little bit scared of what some folks might be able to do with Google and a little psychology.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
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