After a particularly frustrating day, writer Elizabeth Greenwood sat down with a friend and griped about her life, her job, and her six-figure student loan debt. After spinning several increasingly unlikely scenarios for paying back her loans, her friend offered, “Or you could fake your own death.”
The conversation moved on, but the idea stuck, leading Greenwood to investigate the who, how, and—especially—why of “pseudocide.” Her search leads her to a gruff skip-tracer, a jet-setting insurance investigator, a middle-aged lothario who managed to disappear in plain sight, and family members left behind. She learns the worst way to fake your death (drowning), the most common reason to fake your death (money), and the quickest way to get caught (keeping your car).
From New York’s Bear Mountain Bridge to Manila’s black-market bodies, Greenwood leads the reader on a wild tour of the world of death fraud, introducing us to death fakers, the people who help them, and the authorities who hunt them.