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Play Dead (Elise Sandburg Series #1)

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,104 Ratings  ·  340 Reviews
No one understands the dark side of Savannah better than homicide detective Elise Sandburg. As an infant, she was thought to be the daughter of a famous root doctor--and was abandoned in an ancient Low Country cemetery. Growing up, she was haunted by her possible connection to the local Gullah culture--with its spells and voodoo. Now, however, there'
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Onyx (first published January 1st 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 24, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this story, bit creepy and loved the flawed David. This is my second by this author and I am liking her writing, very easy to read. I didn't want to put this one down. Looking forward to the sequel.
Heather Fineisen
Nov 14, 2015 Heather Fineisen rated it really liked it
Love the Savannah, GA setting and the chemistry between detectives Elise and David. The whole zombie science was interesting and the who done it wasn't obvious. Definitely a series to follow.
Agnes (BeaderBubbe)
May 21, 2014 Agnes (BeaderBubbe) rated it really liked it
Didnt think I would like this book so much.....voodoo, witchcraft, darkness, night, weird things happening.....but it grabbed me and didnt let go. Great story, with happy, sad and a few surprises...what you thought you knew...well, that changed in the end. Takes place in Savannah Georgia.....with Det Elise Sandburg investigating a mysterious homicide....she herself has mystery surrounding her - being left in a cemetery as an infant -

Things get hot by mid book...alot of murders happening, until
~2.5 stars~

The element of suspense was well executed in this read. I was glad it was offered as a kindleunlimited as well. the plot was fast paced as well. what really kept me from liking this book we're the main characters. The heroine seemed generic for me. The hero was disgusting and simply repulsive. He was basically a binge drinker that called an escort service. He even had sex numerous times with one of the prostitutes. That ruined his character for me. I doubt I'll continue this series.
May 11, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-gothic
This was a really interesting book. I put this book in the fiction sub-category of southern gothic - it is a suspense/murder mystery, but the sort of legends within the story and elements of voodoo, conjuring, and root work add something extra for me.

Elise is a detective, and also a struggling single mom. She has ultimately sacrificed her relationship with her daughter to her job, preferring to think of her daughter as having a more whole and normal life living with her Dad and step-mom. David
Karen Fowler
Apr 12, 2012 Karen Fowler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite the fact that I have numerous other books in my to-be-read pile I couldn't help moving Play Dead to the front based on the cover alone. It's fantastically creepy and morose. Which I was apparently in the mood for when I started reading this earlier today.

Ironically, after I finished the book I realized that I've recently read another book by Frasier (HUSH) and while I enjoyed that one, I adored this novel.

Set in the sweltering south amid voodoo lore and "root doctoring" (a phrase I had
Jun 19, 2012 Resa rated it really liked it
‘Play Dead’ is a fun take on the somewhat overdone zombie genre. Frasier gets back to the zombie roots, ignoring the scientific, weaponized creation of zombies and looking at the voodoo/hoodoo roots of zombie creation. Now, don’t let that fool you, this is not a “horror” novel. While I initially got the book because it was listed as a voodoo-horror-novel, it’s actually a mystery-crime story, and the “zombies” aren’t really supernatural creatures at all. In fact, zombies are really just a side no ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borrowed off Amazon Prime.

FS: "Savannah medical examiner John Casper believed in what some scientists termed the cluster effect."

LS: "Only then would he get out of her brain."

Pretty good...I enjoyed the narrator a lot. She is a woman of many voices and it made me able to get into the book. I loved the witchcraft and voodoo. The old city feeling you got mixed with a crime and police work. All in all a good book. Looking forward to the second!
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
I didn't think I would like this as much as I did.
I mean the relationship between the two characters was a given.
Almost predictable in my book. But it was a quick read, so I might read the rest in this series.
Elaine Bergstrom
May 14, 2014 Elaine Bergstrom rated it really liked it
Southern gothic, voodoo, people mostly dead rising from embalming tables, root doctors, strange murders. Where have I read that before? Oh, wait, I wrote something like that with "Leanna" and have always had a taste for this brand of macabre. And since "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is one of my favorite books, and "Play Dead" is also set in Savannah, I read the blurb on Book Bub, downloaded the novel and was hooked.
Frasier is apparently known for some horrific murder mysteries, but P
Apr 27, 2016 Julia rated it really liked it
Play Dead is an interesting take on the police procedural drama, with a large skew toward the occult. I really liked the written atmosphere of Savannah, as well as a look into the history of the area (e.g. secret underground tunnels, some of which were used for transporting bodies of yellow fever victims) and local lore. At this point, I'm not too attached to the main characters, Elise and David, but the premise of the series is so cool that I can't wait until May 1 (when I can borrow the next b ...more
Oct 01, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"As he always said, what doesnt kill you, makes you bitter"

Play dead was a free kindle book i picked up on recommendation from a colleague. as such, i had done no research on what the book was about, so this was a complete surprise, and didnt go where i expected.

The book concerns a series of "murders" where men are waking up during autopsy,or coming back from the dead, but the last thing i expected was for the book to lead in a mystical voodoo direction.

The detectives were suitably flawed - Da
Dalton Lynne
Aug 04, 2011 Dalton Lynne rated it really liked it
This was my first Anne Frasier book. I think I ordered it from Amazon, trying to meet that $25 amount for free shipping. LOL What a great find though. The book was very hard to put down; I had to pace myself. I find myself wishing a sequel had been written because I'd really like to know if something more develops between the lead characters. Loved that the book took place in Savannah - it added great atmosphere to the novel. Loved the writing style too - not too wordy, short, concise sentences. ...more
Felicia Wood
Nov 29, 2015 Felicia Wood rated it it was amazing
Bone chilling, captivating, and thrilling! I just couldn't get enough of this creepy tale. All of the different POVs threw me at first, but then I adapted just fine (There are just so many character's heads to get into!). I absolutely loved reading about Savanna's history and myths, so much fun! These people have so many deep issues individually, and all together they are a Mess! The darkness drew me in, and I was hooked. This could easily have been a standalone novel given its depth and dimensi ...more
Hannah Brimson
Mar 04, 2016 Hannah Brimson rated it really liked it
It follows Savannah detectives Elise Sandburg and David Gould as dead bodies start turning up, except they aren’t dead. It seems that in a community that is superstitious, and believes in black magic and voodoo, someone is making zombies. Play Dead was interesting in the way it looked at these superstitions and interweaved them with logic and rationality. The best way this is demonstrated is through the detectives themselves; David Gould is a transfer into Savannah with a traumatic past and refu ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it
This book was a little different for me. It started out a 2 star-Interesting concept, solid writing grammatically but also very dry and bogged down with unnecessary details that were boring and gross at the same time. I'm not really sure at what point it ramped up its game into a 4 story book but it became compelling. I loved the infusion of the Gullah/root doctor into what would've otherwise been a tedious murder mystery. I love Savannah but I wasn't aware that this kind of thing existed there. ...more
Josh Smith
Nov 29, 2015 Josh Smith rated it really liked it
This one came as a surprise. It started out slow and I was debating whether or not to finish it. About 30% of the way through I became completely immersed in this book.

Elise is a detective with a morose past. Abandoned at a cemetery and adopted by a religious family. In the small town of Savannah her history is well known. That in itself wouldn't be a huge problem if she hadn't delved in a bit of hoodoo magic. Frasier also had a troubled past. Kicked out of the FBI after breaking down following
Think of Savannah, and you invariably conjure up images of stately mansions, a city awash in history, and so much more. I don't often think of it as a place of voodo and dark mystery, but this book changed that for me.

A medical examiner is flying solo on a forensic exam. He has sent home his assistant because a storm is pending, electing to stay and finish the exam. As he's about to make the first cut in the infamous Y incision, the body moves and groans. Horrified, he ultimately holds a mirror
Oct 23, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
This is Book One in a new detective series featuring homicide detectives Elise Sandburg and David Gould. It is set in Savannah, where an interesting mix of voodoo, magic, and kudzu adds a rich atmosphere to the plot - indeed, Savannah itself can definitely be considered a “character” in this series.

The story begins in the morgue, where some bodies are discovered of people who are not actually dead; rather, they have been paralyzed by the toxin TTX, or Tetrodotoxin. TTX is a naturally occurring p
Leonie Byrne
May 19, 2014 Leonie Byrne rated it it was amazing
I have never read a book by this author before but would definitely read another. This was a fantastic crime thriller! Kept me gripped the whole way through and thinking about it when I wasn't reading it!

The story features the main characters detectives Elise and David are thrown together when David resigns from the FBI and comes to live and work in savannah. Elise isn't happy with David who is secretive about his past, weird, has a drinking problem and an even bigger attitude problem that stop
May 26, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites

"Evil doesn't need a reason to exist."

Left as a baby in a cemetery because of her strange eyes, the daughter of a conjure man, Elise explores her past in an attempt to solve horrific TTX-related murders. It takes her into a world of black magic, where she came from and desperately has tried to put away in favor of a "more reasonable" life as a detective.

I read the two books in this series (Play Dead and Stay Dead) in reverse order. Play Dead is the first in the series and I think it is the cre
Brenda Vann
Pretty good

So I have to be honest, I added this book through my Kindle Unlimited and it sat in my queue for a while, I just kept skipping over it. The I realized it had audio so I decided, hey...I will listen in the car during my commute. I will be honest this is not generally the type of book I like. I like plots that are a little gritty (maybe a little violent), I like a romance thrown in (and a hooker doesn't count) and I am not a big fan of paranormal/supernatural storylines. So, this book s
Jennifer Irving
Apr 08, 2015 Jennifer Irving rated it liked it
I'm one of those strange people who love zombies, hoodoo, and New Orleans history and mythology. This book promised to give me all of that.

I won't say it failed miserably, but it left me very disappointed by the end. I'm a simple girl too, lots of time gaps bother me, along with constantly changing the point of view with the story. Sometimes it can be fine effectively, but in this book, it was done way to frequently, and sometimes it took me a page or so to figure out the POV had changed.

I also
Luz Aponte-yanes
Dec 30, 2015 Luz Aponte-yanes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
Really dark, creepy and macabre.
Amber Schroer
Nov 22, 2015 Amber Schroer rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, series
I was under the impression that the book would be more "urban fantasy", but it was clearly grounded in reality. It was yet another series of "mismatched" detectives with creative back stories bound to fall for each other while solving a crime. The one thing setting this series apart was the black magic theme that one was lead to believe would be a major part of the plot's progress, but I felt cheated. It seemed to distract the reader from the lack of depth in each character and in the plot itsel ...more
Karen Patterson
Jun 24, 2014 Karen Patterson rated it really liked it
Set in Savannah where superstition and hauntings are considered the norm, you have (1) a detective who was left as a baby at a cemetery and believed to be the daughter of a well-known root doctor with eyes of all colors (Elise), (2) a new partner (David) who is ex-FBI with a tortured past and intent on destroying himself, (3) the local madam (Strata Luna) who only wears all black with a veil carrying a checkered past of her own and feared by all, and (4) a mystery involving bodies which are pres ...more
Maureen ~Bitch Can Write A Book
Creepy...this book had some very interesting aspects. Kind of voodoo, witchcraft and a drug that made you believe in zombies.
I started this book because I loved the last book I read, the only book from this author. I was eager to try more. I had this on my kindle.

Elise was an interesting and different character, weird background for a detective then she finds herself partnered with David who has more baggage than Amtrak, poor guy. This odd duo makes it work. The characters make this book, you w
Apr 01, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition


There wasn't much character development as I would have liked to see in the main character. The use of root magic as a plot driver could have been developed more as well

Nice twist at the end. Debating on picking up number 2.
John Nicholas Kristiansen
Savannah, Zombies, Mystery

Ok, I'm a sucker for mysteries. Especially, set in Savannah Georgia. Elise Sandburg and her partner are interesting and compelling characters. I've purchased the rest of the series. Can't wait to start reading!
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Anne Frasier (a.k.a. Theresa Weir) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty-plus books and numerous short stories that have spanned the genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, and memoir. During her award-winning career, she's written for Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Books/Random House, Silhouett ...more
More about Anne Frasier...

Other Books in the Series

Elise Sandburg Series (3 books)
  • Stay Dead (Elise Sandburg series)
  • Pretty Dead

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