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'Playing Dead' by Elizabeth Greenwood: EW review

Posted on

Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Elizabeth Greenwood
genre:
Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Drowning in six-figure student-loan debt, Greenwood was bemoaning her situation over dinner when a friend suggested, cheekily, that she fake her own death. The offhand comment struck a nerve: “From bit player in your life, you become the auteur. From being pressed up against a wall, you carve a tunnel,” she says. Her obsession with the idea led to this bizarre exposé of the disappearance industry. In it she grills “privacy consultants” who help people vanish, interviews investigators who specialize in death fraud, and even explores black-market morgues in the Philippines where people can obtain bogus death certificates—for a price. Don’t mistake this for a how-to manual, though. Greenwood herself wasn’t seriously tempted to disappear. “Nothing is ever free,” she says, surveying the broken families left behind when someone fakes their own death. “There is no such thing as getting away with it.” A–