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The Philanthropist's Danse

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  582 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Twelve people. Five days. One fortune.

Johnston Thurwell, one of the world’s richest men, dies unexpectedly. His family expects to inherit his wealth, but instead discover the dying philanthropist has spent his last days planning something called The Danse. The twelve most important people in his life are brought together to decide the most important question at the end of
Kindle Edition, 1, 366 pages
Published June 21st 2011
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Dec 02, 2011 Lynne rated it liked it
Very intriguing idea/concept for a story. How greed devours the best in people. I had a hard time relating to the philanthropist though; he seemed like a bully to me. So I understood why his sons turned out the way they did. I get why the philanthropist is doing the "danse" (and that's spelled that way for a reason that I won't spoil). Some lines just didn't sit well with me, but overall I thought it was a pretty good read. 15 characters to get to know and you don't really get to know any of the ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Tammy rated it really liked it
I simply can not believe that this is Paul Wornham's first book. I am convinced he has a few hiding somewhere or under a different name because if this is his first full novel then the Mystery world better prepare. Mr. Wornham is going to be causing quite a scene!
Mr.Wornham requested a review through my blog and I was thrilled. No matter how many times it happens, I am always surprised when I get a request because I revere storytellers so much. The irony is I am told I can be a tough reviewer an
Jan 24, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-fiction
Johnston Thurwell, a fabulously rich businessman, dies in the company of his lawyer and most trusted servants at his rural mansion. Soon after, his attorney arranges for 12 people to spend a week there. These 12 include his three known children, a formerly unknown illegitimate daughter, his best friend, a judge who years ago had pulled strings to have a manslaughter case against his youngest son dismissed, two long-time servants, his paid mistress, the CEO of the charity division of his empire w ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Charlie rated it liked it
Shelves: indie, mystery
3.5 stars
In the vein of a classic whodunnit plot, The Philanthropist's Dan$e gathers a group of people at a country mansion in New York. However, instead of a murder occurring on the first night, the group is assigned the chore of dividing the fortune of the already decreased Mr. Thruwell. Plotting, scheming and aligning allegiances ensue. For mystery readers that lean towards classic plot and characterization reminiscent of the BBC classics, Murder She Wrote episodes, or Agatha Christie type re
Indie Books List
Mar 05, 2012 Indie Books List rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of all things mystery related.
This review originally appeared at

People like stories about wealthy people. My particular affinity for lifestyles the super-rich is not based on the things they own, or the power they possess. I am more interested in the psychology of the rich: The mindset and choices that brought them to, and kept them at the top.
The Philanthropist’s Danse delivers smart, psychological drama of the type I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Take “12 Angry Men”, the psychological gymnas
May 12, 2012 Jiva rated it really liked it
I must say this is one heck of a debut novel.
The premise intrigued me.. Ive previously read a story with a similar plot "billionaire screws greedy family." And wanted to see how this author would handle it. While many of the situations were the same, (ne'er-do -well kids; illegitimate offspring etc) the author manages to put enough of a twist, in addition to a novel method of handling contingencies.(I'll. Never look at a yellow envelope the same way again)

One star off for style : there are entir
May 19, 2012 Lee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I'm looking forward to his next novel.

This is a book I kept picking up to read every spare minute I had and it was frustrating that I had a particularly intense work week. Friday evening finally arrived and I read all night until I finished it.

This novel could do with some editing and a bit of pruning. But when it ended, I wanted to know what happens next to each of the characters, good and bad, so I would've liked it to last longer. That's not to say the ending wasn't a good one -- it was. I th
David Foster
Feb 15, 2015 David Foster rated it really liked it
A most unusual but compelling story! A few times I wondered if my interest would last. It takes awhile to get familiar with all the characters. Not many action scenes. Almost entirely driven by the wild emotions of the players. It isn't unlike a "survivor" reality show.
Apr 06, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it
Wow, this was quite the book. Initially it was very reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (and I still see several parallels between the two, some of which aren't immediately obvious), but as it went along, I couldn't help thinking it also felt like a rather high-stakes version of Survivor with all the strategizing and gameplay and so on that went on. The twists really weren't all that shocking for the most part, but that's not such a bad thing as long as you don't go into th ...more
Nancy Baker
Mar 03, 2014 Nancy Baker rated it liked it
The Philanthropist's Danse is a story of a multi-millionaire, whose last wish is to have 12 people decide the fate of his monetary legacy. A simple enough task, until you factor in a most annoying human trait we call greed. Many rules and time limits apply, whereby available funds are reduced and benefactors can be eliminated. An interesting read that delves into the human mind and how greed, dishonesty, cruelty and even hatred can rule our actions, thoughts and deeds. It brought to light the fa ...more
Gene Gee
Aug 26, 2016 Gene Gee rated it it was amazing
Masterful, in-depth look at the ugliness or beauty that is held beneath the public...and not so public...facade we present. I never wish to act as a spoiler so I must be extremely careful with my words because you, the review readers, are an intelligent lot and will read between the lines (pun intended).

Suffice it to say that I read this as a loaned Kindle book (sorry Paul), but that I am now going to purchase a hard copy. I want this book in my collection.

If you like non-gory psychological thri
Aug 19, 2012 Emma rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Really enjoyed this debut novel which I got as a feebie on my Kindle.

Fantastic story that shows people's true colours and what greed does to families when there is a large inheritance at stake.

The characters were well developed and the novel set a cracking pace with unexpected twists and turns.

Actually made me think of Lord of The Flies in some ways, with regards to people's baser instincts taking over.

Will certainly look out for Paul Wornham's next novel!
Apr 27, 2014 Lillie rated it it was ok
I found this book depressing. Most of the characters were greedy and selfish with few redeeming traits. I never figured out why the billionaire created the bizarre "danse" anyway--I kept waiting for something of value to be revealed, something worthwhile to happen, but it never did.
Aug 23, 2012 Tammi rated it liked it
This was a quick, entertaining read. I liked the beginning and the middle a lot but was just not satisfied with the ending. I thought there would be a twist. The ending just fell flat. I do recommend this book. Overall it was a fun read.
Dec 27, 2015 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, perhaps largely because it is the kind of book I've been trying to write. The basic plot is 12 people are summoned upon the death of a billionaire. The terms of his will are simple; they must decide how to split his estate by a super majority vote of 75%. They can vote to eliminate people from both the inheritance and the voting process - again, only by super majority vote.

There's a few catches. At the stroke of midnight 20% of the fortune is forfeited to his charitable fou
Feb 16, 2015 Macpudel rated it really liked it
I got The Philanthropist's Danse as a Kindle freebie and it was a crazy page-turner. The story has the pacing and sensibilities of a classic Agatha Christie story such as Murder on the Orient Express. An ensemble cast is confined together and, in the case of most of the characters, you like them less and less as the story unfolds. Author Wornham gives background on the characters, but never an excessive info-dump, only what is needed to move the story forward. Sure, a little editing for grammar ...more
Elisa Richardson
May 25, 2015 Elisa Richardson rated it really liked it
Even though it was not advertised as a "cozy murder" book, I kept waiting for a body in the library. Perfect setup as a locked-room mystery. Instead, the book focused on other base sins: greed, lust, corruption, and attempted murder. But it had its sweet side, too. I liked how everyone started the story as a stereotype and ended pretty much the exact opposite.

Good book. I particularly liked the background players, but I thought the last two pages were a little unrealistic (though it did not tak
May 13, 2012 Clewis53 rated it liked it
decent plot. grammar tutorial desperately needed.
Jun 07, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it
I went back and forth about reading this book which was intriguing me and finally broke down and bought it. I am so happy I did. Twelve people are brought together in a mansion to divide a huge fortune left by a man. among the people are his 3 legitimate children, one girl who is illegitimate but he recognizes her, plus various others, employees, friends, enemies, etc. I was drawn into this story from the beginning and the ending was great. I understand this is his first book. Hope he writes mor ...more
Shari Larsen
May 14, 2012 Shari Larsen rated it it was amazing
When Johnston Thurwell. one of the world's wealthiest men, dies unexpectedly, his family expects to inherit his wealth, but the dying philanthropist has spent his last days planning something called The Danse. 12 of the most important people in his life are brought together to decide who will inherit his fortune.

His children are sequestered in Johnston's remote country mansion with a group that includes his best friend, two of his servants, and his greatest business rival. They must agree who am
Joan Adamak
Nov 02, 2012 Joan Adamak rated it it was amazing
Unique, intriguing, entertaining

This novel had the most unusual, interesting plot. Attorney William Byrd, following the written instructions of his deceased client, the famous philanthropist Johnston C. Thurwell, had to locate twelve people and get them to his client’s mansion. Johnston Thurwell III, known as Junior, Bethany Thurwell and Philip Thurwell, were the three children of this man, all difficult; Dennis and Janice Elliot were house staff at one of Thurwell’ mansions; Winifred Tremethick
Nov 12, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it
A recently passed billionaire gathers family, friends, and enemies together at a reclusive mansion to split his fortune amongst them. Every midnight they do not come to an agreement the fortune is reduce by 20%. Sounds like a simple plan: they should just split it evenly right? Well what if the family feels they should get more? What if his business associates they should get equal?

This is what ensues in Wornham's first novel. The first thing I thought as did I see others did when reading about
Karen Toz
Aug 23, 2012 Karen Toz rated it liked it
I picked up a copy of The Philanthropist’s Danse, after reading the summary. I found the idea of a group of people, some related, some strangers, who are called together to decide on their own, how a wealthy, deceased man’s fortune is to be divided, to be an interesting story line. The story did in fact hold up to its description. I felt the author did an excellent job of creating curious and varied characters – each with their own mystery/secret. The writing flowed nicely, and the detailed desc ...more
Jun 03, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: faves, kindle
I enjoyed the premise of this book. The characters were interesting and I was eager to see what would happen in the end - so much so that I easily finished the whole thing in less than a day. The only thing bugging me intensely about this book was the excess of grammatical errors, the most egregious of which was the often seen misuse of the word "I" when it should have been "me." Everyone nowadays tries to be proper and use "I" everywhere... like "between Sandy and I" or "she gave cookies to Mik ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Sondra rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
If 3.5 stars could be possible, I think that is what I would've rated this book. I have a high admiration for an author that believes in his work enough to go through the painful process of self-publishing. I enjoyed the unique subject and felt that the ending was justified for the most part. I would have enjoyed getting to know each character a little better, perhaps some more flashbacks to their interactions with the philanthropist. All in all, a good debut novel worth reading.
Feb 10, 2016 Mary rated it liked it
Twelve people. Five days. One fortune. Johnston Thurwell, one of the worlds richest men, dies unexpectedly. His family expects to inherit his wealth, but instead discover the dying philanthropist has spent his last days planning something called The Danse. The twelve most important people in his life are brought together to decide the most important question at the end of it. Who will inherit his fortune? The family is sequestered in the philanthropists remote country mansion with a group that i ...more
Dec 03, 2014 BETSY COLLINS rated it really liked it
Truth and Consequences

Reminiscent of Agatha Christie's style, the characters in this book are introduced and then dissected gradually to reveal how their past actions affected the dead but nevertheless omnipresent philanthropist whose will they are assembled to hear. The plot has ingenious twists and as the actors play out their roles, the reader may find it hard not to take sides, only to find it necessary to reevaluate as more factors become evident to the detriment of one or the other heir.
Mary Glass
Sep 28, 2014 Mary Glass rated it really liked it
Mind games done posthumously

Is it only the mega rich that can be so twisted? Or is it the valuation of money over all that does the trick? There are enough books with the premise this one has to make for it's own genre now it seems. This book holds it's own. A big, complex cast with secrets and flaws just oozing all over the place. Unflappable servants and a savvy lawyer move the dance along with admirable aplomb.
Mar 22, 2012 Matt rated it did not like it
I'm sorry, I've read some dry stuff before but I simply could not finish this book. The characters were shallow and really very cliche. I don't want to give things away but it makes no sense as a sustainable plot. We're following the characters and think we understand the rules of the game they're playing but suddenly the rules are tossed out. The family does everything within the rules that are laid out but then when it's convenient for the writer he brings out a secret rule that the players an ...more
Mar 14, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it
I’ve always found interesting things happen when you trap characters together, add some stress, and sit back and watch the show. This reminded me some of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” or the movie “Clue” but without murders. All the players are invited to a remote mansion under the pretext of meeting with a well known businessman and philanthropist Johnston C. Thurwell – but he’s already dead. Some of the guests are his children, some coworkers, and some it’s not really clear at t ...more
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Paul is the author of the novel The Philanthropist's Danse and The Mercy Contracts.

Paul grew up in the city of Bath in England, a place that everyone should see before they die.

Paul began his work life as a bookseller with WHSmith in the UK before they convinced him to sell music instead. He sold music and movies on both sides of the Atlantic over the next decade and a half, shifting with the tim
More about Paul Wornham...

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