Play Dead
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Play Dead (Elise Sandburg #1)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,234 ratings  ·  167 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'...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Onyx (first published January 1st 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Agnes (BeaderBubbe)
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...more
‘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
Elaine Bergstrom
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...more
Karen Fowler
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...more
"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...more
Dalton Lynne
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
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...more

"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...more
Karen Patterson
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
I can't finish this. I may have been able to get into the murder mystery, but the cliche relationship between the male and female detectives is preventing that. But I guess I expected that, as I added it to my FluffStuff shelf before I even started it.
David Donaghe
This chilling tale takes you deep into the underbelly of Savannah's subculture to a place where the dead won't stay dead. It takes you a part of Savanna that the tourist rarely see. Play dead was an exciting read and I think you will enjoy it.
Linda Appelbaum
Zombies, voodoo, tunnels under Savannah with creepy things in them, a detective who was left in a cemetery as a baby (fathered by a root doctor), bodies that aren't really dead afterall, a madam who supposedly ate her daughter's heart and scares the death out of most of the people who know her - this book is full of spooky stuff that held my interest to the very end. People seem dead but aren't - who is doing it and why, along with the background story of the 2 detectives on the case makes for a...more
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...more
Anne Frasier, aka Theresa Weir, wrote a complex contemporary thriller with a strong heroine when she completed the book PLAY DEAD. Elise Sandberg, a divorced police detective with a 13 year old daughter who would rather spend her time elsewhere, faces off voodoo, living zombies and a serial killer on the loose in Savannah, GA.

Elise was a competent and respected woman yet vulnerable when it came to her daughter, Audrey. Her partner on the force, David Gould, has many imperfections with ghosts su...more
J.C. Hart
I'm pretty sure that I picked this up from the Kindle Free Bestseller list awhile back, as I really liked the premise. I love these kind of books and the combination of crime and the occult always appeals. I very quickly got hooked and this one did not disappoint.

I really liked Elise as a character - she's flawed, strong, has an interesting past and a mystery to her origins which comes directly into play with the main plot line. She has a teenager daughter who is reluctant to have anything to do...more
Oct 06, 2011 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes suspense, mystery, and off-beat Southern culture
Shelves: read-in-2011
I really enjoyed this book! It was very interesting, and I found it hard to put down. I don't get why people say this book has a supernatural ending; maybe I missed something, but the supernatural was an undertone in this book and it is never directly stated whether the "supernatural" or "paranormal" actually exists.

On a side note, I was very surprised when (view spoiler)...more
Matt Schiariti
Mix two main characters with a great deal of baggage, some southern voodoo and Savannah lore and a series of murders and bodies that seem to be dead but aren't REALLY dead and what do you get? Another fantastic Anne Frasier thriller.

This is the second book I've read by Anne Frasier. The first was Hush which I absolutely loved. Play Dead cements Anne Frasier at the top of my list of favorite mystery/thriller writers.

As with Hush the core of this novel is the characters. Frasier seems to be able t...more
C.C. Thomas
This book takes place in Savannah and is there any more literary city in America? To read this book made me feel the passion and heat and intensity of that Southern city almost as soon as I opened those pages.

In this cunning mystery, someone is kidnapping victims, torturing them and then dumping them, leaving them as if dead all over the city. Except they're not quite dead. Some of them wake up in the morgue after the pronouncement of death and officials soon realize the killer is giving the vic...more
"I had a special place there. A secret place. A place where we could both play dead."

Play Dead is, on the surface, a police procedural with paranormal connotations. Delve a little deeper, however, and the voodoo cult-like acceptance of Victorian era myths enriched in Savannah become paramount to the character's psyche and their interactions amongst themselves. 'Play Dead' is an engrossing story involving an atypical murder case turned serial and the fly on the wall police perspective of those as...more
Jan 03, 2008 Sfdreams rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery fans who like good character-driven plots
Shelves: reviewed
I picked this up at a book fair and wasn't sure I would like this book or not--I have begun to shy away from the dark, gritty, in-the-head of serial killers kind of books. (Just don't want that negative energy in me anymore!) But although this deals with a serial killer, and there were chapters and parts of chapters from the killer's POV, I found that I enjoyed the characters and relationships in this book.

The main character is a cop, Elise, who was found as a baby in a cemetary in Savannah, Geo...more
Definitely keeps your attention

Definitely keeps your attention

This was my first Anne Frasier book, and it kept my attention. I have never read books that dealt with the subject of voodoo and private investigation. I liked the way she was able to intertwine the two fairly easily. I would like to give it a 3.5. I could tell that she was setting the characters to return in a series, and since I like her flawed heroes, I know I'll return.
Very impressed by this thriller/suspense that I borrowed through Amazon Prime. The story was quite good, plus the author includes a lot of (true) Savannah history and culture. Really helps set the mood and tone. This is the difference between so many self-published books you can get for your Kindle versus one by an actual publishing house that has a Kindle edition. I immediately downloaded the next volume after finishing this one.
Buku kedua yg gw baca, ceritanya seperti biasa Anne Frasier yang bikin suspensnya menarik, kali ini kisah kematian orang2 secara misterius dan unik karena meski dinyatakan mati tapi orang tersebut masih bisa mendengar dalam pikirannya, bahkan masih bisa menggerakkan sedikit anggota badannya sebentar.
Tokohnya pun bermasalah seperti biasa, tokoh ceweknya adalah seorang janda muda yang memiliki anak perempuan berumur 13 tahun, memiliki masalah karena dia merasa semakin jauh dari anaknya yang lebih...more
N. Kuhn
This was an interesting thriller. The plot was thick, the story complex. I enjoyed the characters. This book will keep you guessing until the end in a strange Who Done It. The story is well thought out and kept me glued to it. The ending was so not who you thought throughout the book. The information you get while reading is great, you think you have it solved, but you don't!! Great read.
I really wanted to like this book. The summary and previous reviews made it sound very intriguing, and the setting of Savannah, GA made it hard for me to pass up. However, the descriptions of the city and its residents did not ring true to the city I know and love - seemed more like someone who had read a book about Savannah or maybe passed through the city once. I decided to overlook that personal disconnect, read the story as if it were set in a "fictional" city, and just enjoy the mystery. Bu...more
Heather Dearly
Anne Frasier is an auto-buy author for me. Play Dead is a dark and deftly plotted novel with surprising twists and beguiling prose. The characters are fully developed and the setting is active and alive. An easy, engrossing read, I would definitely recommend this series to fans of mystery and suspense. I can't wait for the sequel, Stay Dead's release this month!
Kimberly Hicks
Oct 23, 2013 Kimberly Hicks rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery/Suspense Lovers
Recommended to Kimberly by: BookBub
Shelves: read-on-kindle
What an interesting twist this mystery had. I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was, but the story took a strange turn and I was surprised when the evil killer was revealed.

Dead people are supposed to be, just that, dead, but how would you feel if you were an M.E. and discovered that the body you were just about to cut a Y shape in, suddenly gasped for air? Well, that was enough to raise the hair on the back of my neck. When you're dealing with a corpse, that's what you'd expect--a dead pers...more
K.R. Bankston
Great, great story!! this book was well written, the storyline intriuging with just the right amount of thrill, mystery, suspense..even laughter and a touch of romance. David was definitely on my list of suspects at the beginning, but as I continued to read, I just noticed he was tortured, not nuts. Elise was pretty cool, a bit weak to me when it came to her bratty daughter, Audrey, but otherwise a good person. Loved how she was open to things "outside the norm" when it came to the case and find...more


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.
Glenn Harris
First book of a series featuring Savannah homicide detective Elise Sandburg. When a series of arrivals at the morgue turn out to have been mistakenly declared dead, Sandberg and her partner David Gould begin to wonder if someone is trying to create zombies--and almost succeeding.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Witch of Agnesi (Bonnie Pinkwater Mystery, #1)
  • Cades Cove: The Curse of Allie Mae (Cades Cove, #1)
  • Disturbed Earth
  • Dead Deceiver (A Loon Lake Mystery, #11)
  • Mama Does Time (A Mace Bauer Mystery #1)
  • Forsaken
  • The Scavenger's Daughter: A Tyler West Mystery
  • The Prophet Motive
  • The Bluejay Shaman
  • The Bet
  • Double Exposure
  • Snake Skin (Lucy Guardino FBI Thriller, #1)
  • A Soul to Steal (The Sanheim Chronicles, #1)
  • Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware (Harbinger Mystery, #1)
  • Scott Nicholson Library, Vol. 1 (Boxed Set)
  • In the Belly of Jonah (A Liv Bergen Mystery #1)
  • Bad Wolf (Bad Wolf Chronicles, #1)
  • Dead Of Winter (Louis Kincaid, #2)
Hush Sleep Tight Pale Immortal (Pale Immortal, #1) Garden of Darkness (Pale Immortal, #2) Before I Wake

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Words are real. Even if you can't see them, or hold them. Once you send them out in the world, they have power. Never speak words you don't mean.” 17 likes
“Words are real. Even if you can’t see them, or hold them. Once you send them out in the world, they have power. Never speak words you don’t mean.” 1 likes
More quotes…