Editor’s Selection – Amazon.com’s 100 Best Books of 2001


On a clear autumn L.A. morning, sitting in the front row of his best friend’s funeral, professional loafer Quince Bishop can’t think of anything more depressing than watching yet another loved one being lowered into the ground-until a band of guerilla environmentalists crash the ceremony to deliver a lecture on the high cost of dying in America. One violent impulse later, Quince finds himself up to his waist in dirt … and he hasn’t even begun to dig himself a hole.

With the help of beautiful funeral-rights advocate Maria Casteneda-not to mention the complicated ambitions of reporter and perennial ex-girlfriend Melanie Roth-Quince learns just how an unscrupulous funeral director can turn death into a high-class living. In the process, Bishop unwittingly sets himself on a collision course with two entrepreneurial ex-cons who are hatching a burial plot of their own. Chaos, confusion, and double-dealing are on the program, and only one thing is certain: all paths lead to the cemetery.


“After Quince Bishop gets into a fistfight with eco-activists who disrupt his best friend’s funeral, his journalist ex-girlfriend covers the story and a beautiful funeral-rights advocate gets involved, upending poor Quince’s lackadaisical life. But that’s nothing compared to the funeral-biz scams he unearths in Sean Doolittle’s uproarious first novel, Dirt.”
–Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2001

“It’s very rare for a first novel to be perfect; to have a great story, sparkling writing, interesting layered characters, a carefully balanced and realized setting, a beautifully modulated pace, and not a single misstep. This first novel comes very close. . .Doolittle is a writer with a story to tell and the skills to tell it well–clearly a writer to watch.”
–ForeWords Magazine

“. . .a really top-notch thriller. . .a stumbling, bumbling, lovable anti-hero. . .the book is a delight.”
–Lincoln Journal-Star

“Doolittle gives us a great comic-noir romp. . .one of the best noir novels of the year. It’s a creative and quirky tour de force.”

–Plots With Guns

“Sean Doolittle takes a great deal of time with his characters … expertly captures the moral and emotional complexities of trading on the deceased … [and] balances realism and authenticity with the twists and turns of a mystery thriller ….”

–The Reader

“In a passionate flurry of curious motives, seedy characters, and a touch of the heroic, Doolittle delivers an A+ effort that should be considered one of the top crime novels of the year. . .Highly recommended.”
–Cemetery Dance Magazine

“[Doolittle] is indeed very good at what he does.”

“Truly this is a book that deserves your attention.”
–Reviewing the Evidence

“With likable characters in frequently ridiculous situations, Doolittle has created a novel that is much like life itself, too strange to be real and too real to be strange, but wonderful none the less.”