cover image Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

Bess Lovejoy. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4516-5498-1

Repeatedly illustrating with a hearseload of case studies that “final resting place” is a relative term, Lovejoy (a contributing writer for the Schott’s Almanac series) digs up a litany of strange-but-true tales of the postmortem adventures of all manner of famous corpses throughout history. In many cases, the cadavers or their skeletons were left intact, but others weren’t so lucky—Napoleon and Rasputin reportedly both lost their penises after death (and for the record, Dillinger’s is not at the Smithsonian). The fate of some bodies, such as those of Ted Williams, Lenin, Eva Perón, and Hunter S. Thompson, are fairly well-known, but readers will be surprised to learn the story behind the disappearance of Geronimo’s skull (as well as its alleged link to the Bush family) and the curious travels of Dorothy Parker’s remains (both the Algonquin Hotel and the New Yorker passed on hosting them until, via a bizarre and circuitous route, the NAACP stepped forward and claimed them). Buoyed by rigorous research and wry humor, Lovejoy’s compilation is sure to fuel more than a few cocktail party conversations. B&w illus. throughout. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Mar.)