Is there life after death?

And if you don’t believe in a god, is it possible to believe in a life after (physical) death?

First though, the results of the atheist/agnostic poll, and many thanks to everyone who answered, and commented of course.

Poll results

Total votes cast: 38.

Don’t forget it was a multi poll so people could vote in more than one category.

As a reminder, here’s the official study results.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

In comparison, my poll had higher percentages of seekers and non-theists, and activists were the same percentage as the intellectual/academics.

Before anyone says anything, yes my poll was a very small sample size, so no, you can’t draw anything statistically meaningful out of it except that a number of people voted, some in more than one category, as how they self identified based on my summary of the categories.

That doesn’t stop it being interesting to people like me who like playing with numbers and putting people into boxes. 😉

I didn’t vote, I self-identify as a non-theist, but like others I have flitted in and out of most categories, including ritualist. Second after non-theist currently for me, would be activist.

First prize for correctly guessing me without hesitation (deviation or repetition), goes to violetwisp, quickly followed by Mak. So if you comment on their blogs, be careful what you say as they are clearly sharp on the character analysis.

Special prize goes to David for being the first to guess, (intellectual) even if it wasn’t the right answer. At the time I was studying Ancient and Medieval History and Archaeology (approx 33BC to 1500AD) with heavy emphasis on the Holy Roman Empire, it would have been a pretty accurate guess as I was quite up on the Council of Nicea and other such riveting snippets of the past.

The topic of atheism leads me nicely into a review of:

Death Never Sleeps, by EJ Simon

This is a cracking read. One of those unputdownable, page turning, don’t-want-it-to-end reads.

Two brothers take different paths in life. One becomes a respectable CEO and Alex, the elder brother, runs a mega loan shark and bookmaking business.

imageIn the first few chapters, Alex is shot dead, and his nice respectable brother becomes involved in his dubious underworld business as he tries to sort out his affairs and find the odd few million Alex stashed away in cash. But where? and how? as Alex never told anyone where he hid it. Then, there’s the question of who killed Alex and why? Because, for all he was involved in shady dealings, it seems everyone thought he was a nice guy.

And, perhaps most important, what was Alex doing spending millions of pounds on fancy software for his souped-up Apple? Now, this is Hal and then some.

Is Alex dead as we know it, or has he truly found a way to communicate with his brother from … well, wherever?

No more about the plot, as it would be a shame to give away spoilers.

This is Simon’s first novel, and it is a very good one. Getting a first novel right isn’t easy, many people make a total botch of it, but Simon hit the ground running with this one.

How? Pacing is spot-on, the storyline is imaginative, the characters are well-drawn and credible, there is no flowery pretentious language, it’s just a good story well-told, with an interesting twist in it.

At around 380 pages, it’s an easy read with short chapters and plenty of white space, so I finished it off in around five hours. And, an added bonus, no errors! Yes, picky roughseas could find no spelling errors or poor dialogue or anything. Damn! OK I did find one quotation mark that I didn’t think should have closed the dialogue. And in the print version, there were four “s that had crept in to non-dialogue pars, but they’d been taken out of the ebook. Pretty good huh?

While it’s basically an enjoyable read for anyone who likes a good mystery/crime story, it does raise some interesting questions.

  • Do we really know how far and how fast artificial intelligence is developing? When does virtual reality and perceived reality overlap?
  • Can we connect with people after their death? How can they guide us in our life? Or can they?
  • And what’s the Vatican doing in there? Up to no good as usual …
  • How similar are siblings who have pursued very different paths in lives? Do they ultimately share the same characteristics? Younger brother Michael finds himself becoming interested in his brother’s business operation, leaving his corporate finance world looking bland, uninteresting, and equally as ruthless and immoral, if not moreso than the loan-sharking gambling business he takes over.

I was left reminded of The Godfather, when older brother Sonny was gunned down, and nice boy Michael Corleone (coincidentally the same first name) ended up taking over the family business.

Plus, as a self-avowed food enthusiast, Simon has his characters eat in Italian restaurants, so don’t read this book when you are hungry if you like Italian food.


Death Never Sleeps is the first one in a series, with Death Logs In published last month (October), and the third book, Death Logs Out, due next autumn (2015).

Next week, I’ll be reviewing Death Logs In and it will be interesting to see if it lives up to the promise shown in this book.

imageE J Simon was the CEO of GMAC Global Relocation Services (a division of GM) and the Managing Director of Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate company in NY.

He is a consultant to many leading private equity firms and has held senior level positions at prominent financial services companies. Simon describes himself as a world traveller, food enthusiast and lives in Connecticut.

And after reading this book, I was curious enough to want to ask EJ some nosy questions, which were answered suitably quickly (just as well, us journos have deadlines).

Q1 Looking at your career, it’s easy to see how you could develop the character of the ‘good brother’ Michael. But how did you manage to research the background for Alex, who was immersed in illegal betting and loansharking?

    The short answer is that I grew up in Queens, NY. I have been surrounded by interesting “characters” all my life. A successful bookie lived two houses down from me as a child. He would buy a new Cadillac each year – and occasionally have it painted a different color after a short time, for no apparent reason. Now I know why. He described himself as an “inventor.” Our own family was Greek – and they generally love to gamble and enjoy life, it’s part of the culture. I was exposed from an early age to a diverse and interesting cast of characters. I see a lot of these same types of people when I travel back to Queens. I’ll go to one of my favorite restaurants, Piccola Venezia in Astoria, Queens, and it brings back colorful memories. I still have people to call when I need more specific information on bookmaking, loan-sharking and other illegal activities.

Q2 Your writing style is sparse and succinct, which really fits a crime/mystery/suspense novel. Are there any authors in particular who have influenced your style?

    I was influenced by Stuart Woods. He keeps everything moving and relatively simple. He has short chapters which I appreciate. It’s an uncomplicated style that seems like it should be easy to emulate. It isn’t.
    I like to refer to myself as a “Blue Collar” writer. I don’t write literary fiction. I don’t nurse my manuscript for years. I write commercial fiction. I think of myself to be more of a craftsman or an entertainer. I also try to write for people who often don’t read books. That’s a high hurdle to overcome – and by far the largest market in the world.

Q3 Alex and Michael took very different paths in life. Yet Michael adapts to his brother’s business very quickly. To what extent do you think genes are the defining factor that enable someone to adapt to a new and alien environment, and make a success of it as Michael does?

    I can’t separate the influence of genetics as opposed to upbringing. In the books, Michael and Alex had the same parents and grew up in the same home. Clearly, the combination of the two factors gives Michael a predisposition – even if just from the exposure – to be able to handle and succeed at his brother’s business. I believe that Michael has begun to look at himself and ask the same question. The answer may be a bit disturbing to him.

Q4 Do you believe in any of these: a life after death, a life outside our physical bodies, life elsewhere in the universe?

    I struggle with things where there is no physical proof – yet I’ve seen people – psychics – who appear to have the ability to know things that baffle me. I believe that our minds play conveniently comfortable tricks on us. I believe in a lot of coincidences.
    Mostly, however, I believe that no one here on earth has these answers. There may or many not be anything after we die – but I don’t believe that any living human being has any inside information. This isn’t Wall Street.
    I do believe there is life on other planets – but only when we have sent astronauts there.


I’ve read and reviewed this book courtesy of iRead Book Tours. Book (hard copy) supplied by S/Z publishing. Q&A arranged via Laura Fabiani of iRead Book Tours, with EJ Simon and publicist Donald Allen.

52 comments on “Is there life after death?

  1. The answer is . . . no.

    But, as usual, it’s more complicated that that. The following, although long, is one of the best debates I have ever heard /watched. I miss Hitchens.


  2. Like most people I ask myself “Is this all there is?” which leads me to hope that little spark of electricity within us doesn’t die off. I don’t expect to constantly come back a a human being (Thank God…lol), nor to remember past lives. I don’t expect great reunions with my loved ones in a heaven, just that the spark of life goes on.
    A great review and a good interview Kate, thank you.


    • Yet some of us think, this is all we know, let’s make the most of it, or in the phrase, One Life, Live It.

      We have a fear of death and being cut down, cut off, and totally terminated. I suspect that’s why people like to believe there is something after death.

      In 50 years time WordPress won’t be here, life and blogs will have moved on and even our virtual rumblings, er ramblings, will be consigned to the scrap heap.

      I’m quite mean with some of my review comments (although I don’t name the authors when I’m very mean, but this was good, so I’m happy to say so. And, EJ has been very helpful. I’ve got some extra Qs and As for the next review but I was trying to avoid spoilers in case anyone wants to read the first book. Thanks David.


  3. For some there is hardly life before death. Did you know Australia has the highest density per capita of MacDonalds? We are now also the world’s fattest.
    Of course records like these are often quoted by other countries as well. Many countries claim they have the highest rates of book readers. Holland was always presented as having the highest percentage of readers. Australia is claiming the same.
    Looking in book shop windows; cooking books still seem to dominate which makes me think why there are so many MacDonalds. Do people go and eat there while reading cookery books. Who knows?
    I see far more people’s jaws masticating in public than I see reading books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love that first comment.

      I didn’t know either of the next two. I think the only time I have been into McDonalds was to use the toile at the Sydney Kings Cross one.

      I haven’t bought a cookery book in years, but there again, I have sufficient and I think by now I have worked out how to boil an egg. I do follow a couple of recipe blogs, my latest find is a very good Indian one. But I’m surprised anyone buys cookery books, have internet, key in ingredients, choice of recipes. One of the better uses of the internet. But there again, I’m also surprised anyone eats at McDonalds.

      I read proper books at home but use a ‘phone to read when out and waiting. A book is one thing less to carry when I can read on a ‘phone.


  4. I landed in the “seeker” category , not surprisingly. I remember being so affected by my visits to China and Taiwan where witnessing the Buddhist temple rituals by worshippers who would have said “Jesus Who?”

    Interesting that E.J. Simon refers to himself as a “blue-collar writer.” He writes for those that don’t like reading generally. I, too, really enjoy Stuart Woods. Have you read “Chiefs?” A good page-turner.


    • Never even heard of Stuart Woods. Work and an internet break in early 21st century left me behind on a lot of things.

      Wasn’t sure I was keen on the description blue-collar writer. Struck me as patronising, plus blue-collar is normally unskilled whereas I think EJ likes to think of himself as a ‘craftsman’ (skilled). I do like page-turners though and am happy to acknowledge when they are good.

      I saw a lot of Buddhists in Nepal and India. If I was interested in anything I’d lean towards that.


  5. Life after death? Lol! Er… only if one is almost dead
    That was a very enthusiastic review.
    And no mistakes! How is that done? I must be naturally un-gifted in this department. I want to know the secret before all my hair falls out.


    • Of course, I should have linked back to Almost Dead. Never mind, I have another bite at this cherry (?) next week with book two, so shall remember to mention you then sweets.

      Was a bit wasn’t it? Must tone down enthusiasm. It was just a good easy read, with some interesting tweaks.

      How to achieve no mistakes? Haven’t you worked that one out yet? 😀

      Plus, I’m going to write a scathing helpful post about an Amazon preview I read yesterday …

      No, not yours, silly.


      • I did not expect you to link at all ( I am not that desperate to trawl for kudos! ) – but considering the content of the post it just seemed the appropriate ”line” ( that you would understand) to throw in the water. :)

        No, you mustn’t tone down anything.
        It’s fantastic when a reader/reviewer is really cheering from the sidelines. That is how books get around the world in eighty days…or less! I love it.

        Yes, I do know the answer, btw. That was tongue in cheek.


        • It was suitably witty, I liked it :)

          As Simon says, he writes what he writes, and if you like that sort of book, then it’s a good read IMO. Just as if you like teenage vampire novels, Meyer’s books are a similarly good read. When saying something is a good read, context is all.

          That’s good, didn’t want to think I’d wasted my time on here with the odd few top tips.


  6. I was struck to see this posted before (though I saw it after) my Afterlife post, saying not even all Christians need believe in one. I read recently that some Hindus believe that Untouchables have been reincarnated as that as a punishment, and therefore higher castes bullying them is only right. Yuck.

    Computer uploading- Iain M Banks wrote “Surface Detail”, in which societies achieving such technology promptly created Hells, to punish the Bad.


    • I’d actually drafted it a few days ago, I’m tied into a set date for book tours, so they are the rare posts I write slightly in advance. I think that’s an interesting concept about whether or not Christians (or any believer) need to subscribe to the everlasting life theory. See, this is where you don’t fit the religious mould. You are too laid back and flexible! I find Hinduism interesting from a story point of view, but the caste system is dire.

      I had to look up Banks (you are well up on modern authors) and it sounded fascinating.


  7. I don’t think any of us will ever know if there is life after death. If you’re dead, you’re dead and won’t know it. LOL! I sometimes think I believe in reincarnation, but you can’t believe anything you read either, so who knows? Either way, loved the review. I will definitely watch it when it’s in ‘movie format’. LOL! ♥


    • It would make a good film. I tend to read books with graphic images in my head, hence I don’t need films, and this one would be great. If he wrote it with a film/screenplay in mind, he didn’t do badly.

      Yup. When you’re dead … you’re dead. Perhaps old style laying people out in front rooms, or visiting funeral parlours aka undertakers to see dead bodies in coffins might help in a lot of different ways. Yes, the person is dead, deceased has fallen off its perch (Monty python) and, it shouldn’t be something to fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. (Whew. I step out for a bit and miss all sorts of stuff. Must run back and read to catch up)
    Science says energy is neither created or destroyed? Basically humans are wired and have energy sparks that transmit? Always thought it odd people are composed of so much water like the ocean. H20 is a good conductor.
    Strange things can happen as people are on their way out – an over abundance of brain activity? Everything firing at once? Being around hospitals you may have seen that. Sometime I’ll sit down and share some odd goodbyes – long distant ones. No real explanations. No need for one – it is what it is.
    Reincarnation is interesting…comforts those who don’t want to cope with dead ends?
    AI is evolving now. Sounds like a book/series I must check out. Cool author, thanks


    • Don’t we all. I usually read three posts of yours at once.

      I see Texas wants to change the science books in your schools to say the world was created according to the bible though. Not good, let people decide for themselves what to believe.

      Strange things can happen. I may have shared one of Partner’s stories before, but it will do for a rerun shortly. Sensitivity perhaps?

      It’s a thriller mystery sort of book with an interesting tweak. That’s why I liked it. It’s a good easy read, no more, no less, but well done.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh the media always foams about the textbooks( science, and history, but math sometimes).
        CA, Florida, and TX are such big markets the big companies battle like crazy to get them – they love to stir up public opinion often with rumors and half truths. Creationism was a big deal last time around – overblown, but makes “good” press fodder. There are always extremists, but general in the end it turns out balanced.
        The state here does central buying – many states leave selection and purchasing up to local school boards. So the big companies get pretty rough to gain foothold…they “leak” to the press stuff about author beliefs/ what is in the competition’s books, and run to women’s clubs and tell them to get up there and protest to “save the children”. It’s a joke
        Most of the “protestors” have never read the texts – many of the company reps don’t (who has time?)
        No one text is mandated. The state board recommends 4-5 choices and the school district picks what they want or they can select another choice and buy those. Sometimes if the choices are poor, districts may choose to use older texts they already have (Transformational grammar English texts were a total waste of time and money – many schools passed on that “modern” concept companies were pushing then.)
        One funny thing is that often even the bigger companies don’t even have the whole textbook written – and they want to send pages to be reviewed as they are completed. Uh, no. There are deadlines. It takes almost a year for teachers, committees, the public and then the state board to read and review texts before the vote. (I was a regional committee chair one year for lit texts at secondary level)
        All the whoopla and wringing of hands? Street drama – fun to watch!
        Hope to catch up reading this week…if I can stop sneezing long enough to focus – always bad until the weather completely shifts seasons – 80 yesterday, maybe 60 today, but sunny. I think Bob’s going to post and give me some slack. Thanksgiving Thurs, but not cooking here…definitely not shopping. Only doing online and small shops this Christmas


        • I figured you’d know. Always nice to get a sensible take on something though with background info too.

          Yes, weather changes always bring along the sneezes. Apparently mine carry through the whole block. Usually morning, then tail off. Or maybe it’s that dust I agitated and tried to remove? Not sure.

          Bless you. Or. Jesús, María y José. Except everyone normally says Jesús. Sounds a bit like a tissue. (We all fall down).


          • We grew up saying “Gesundheit” for sneezes. Everyone did. Weird, right?
            Now it’s mostly “bless you” or “Geesh, stay home if you’re sick”
            Out of habit I say “salud” from work. People look at you oddly though


          • I remember that, it was quite trendy.

            Stay home if you’re sick sounds the most sensible. But! Wait! You can’t possibly do that! Much better to come into work, be totally unproductive and Mak everyone else sick too. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Late to the party, as always, I probably enjoyed your analysis more than I would have taking part, but I did like the sound of that book you reviewed. You never know where the next little gem in life is coming from. Hope all’s well with you in Gib. :)


  10. I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently unfortunately, with the death of my dad, and my nan in the past week. It’s a very interesting post, and i’m not really sure where I stand as an atheist. I think there may possibly be some sort of afterlife but perhaps not as traditionally believed.


    • Trouble is when parents die it brings it home how very real—and close—death actually is. I’ve got a very simplistic view about it, I see no evidence so I’m putting my energies and focus into this brief short life I know exists.

      Liked by 1 person

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