By Karen Valby
Updated January 17, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

On the surface, Death of an Ordinary Man sounds like The Lovely Bones from a man’s point of view. A married father wakes up at his own funeral, hovering above a grieving muddle, with no idea of how he died or where he’s headed. But Glen Duncan, a London novelist regarded as a literary up-and-comer, is not some hack capitalizing on a proven formula. His fifth novel unfolds over the course of one day, from the bleak cemetery visit to the bleary-eyed wake (”the house had the feel of a half-dismantled fairground”). Nathan Clark, our spectral narrator, flits in and out of his family’s messy heads, piecing together clues to his passing. Duncan creates an unhurried, dreamlike mood, studded with piercing insights into family dynamics and the fears of the living. Dark and lovely.

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