By Mike Collett-White
LONDON, July 4 (Reuters Life!) - In what its editor called a publishing first, 26 authors with combined sales of tens of millions of books have joined forces to write a single thriller called "No Rest For the Dead".
Andrew Gulli, who runs Strand Magazine specialising in crime thrillers and mystery short stories, came up with the idea for a plot and initially invited 12 writers to contribute chapters of their own.
"I had an idea about a woman who was executed for a crime she didn't commit," said Gulli. "So I wrote a prologue and handed it to the first author and he and the others started to write."
What he got back was not enough to make a coherent novel, so he invited more writers and ended up with a total of 26.
The list includes novelist Jeffery Deaver, best known for his Lincoln Rhyme series and now the latest authorised James Bond sequel, Alexander McCall Smith and Kathy Reichs.
"If you add up the group of writers who have taken part in this book, you'll find they have sales of hundreds of millions of books," Gulli told Reuters. "In the history of publishing nothing like this has ever occurred."
No Rest For the Dead centres around Jon Nunn, a detective who helped convict a woman for murdering her husband, the curator at a San Francisco museum.
But 10 years later he is convinced he got the wrong woman, although it is too late to save Rosemary -- she was executed.
He plans to gather everyone who was there the night Christopher Thomas died, and uncover what really happened, suspect by suspect.
"But this is not another Agatha Christie, or her creation Hercule Poirot, where the group is gathered and the detective details the case and points the finger at the story's end," Gulli said of the novel.
"There are flashbacks, and a policeman's life has been ruined. It is a tale of redemption after he made a huge mistake, and there is a real twist."
The project took Gulli four years, and his greatest challenges were finding authors willing to contribute for a nominal fee as well as keeping the style and story constant enough for it to be readable.
"I think it's a very entertaining read. When we re-read it, we thought it had the best of all possible worlds in that you can still see the different styles."
Gulli called in his sister Lamia to help edit the novel and share the workload.
The pair plan to give all of their proceeds from the book to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society after they lost their mother to the disease in 1997.
No Rest For the Dead is published by Simon & Schuster on July 5. (Reporting by Mike Collett-White)