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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Dead and Kicking by Wendy Roberts

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Author: Wendy Roberts

Copyright: Dec 2009 (Signet); 280 pgs.

Series: #3 in Ghost Buster’s Mysteries

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery sub-genre: Paranormal Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Sadie Novak, owner of Scene-2-Clean, a cleaning company that specializes in cleaning up death scenes
Setting: Seattle, Washington

Obtained book through: Library Find

Sadie Novak sees and talks to the dead, which makes her job of cleaning up death scenes interesting and occasionally dangerous. This series caught my eye initially because of the unique concept of a psychic trauma clean specialist. This series does mention some oogie things that Sadie must clean up from death scenes. I think that aspect is handled without overdoing or elaborating on gruesome details too much.

In this installment of the series Sadie is now living with what had just been a developing boyfriend from the last book. I felt as though a year or so was missed in Sadie’s life from the last book to this one. The story opens at the wake for Sadie’s father in her folks’ home and – you guessed it – his ghost is there. Sadie has already lost here brother a few years earlier and she finds that what she considers her duty to help dad cross over into the light is hard since she would rather he stay around.

The mystery in this story comes from her now live-in-boyfriend Zack taking a clean-up job from his former girlfriend. The job is to clean out her “horder” mother’s house. Yes, Paula’s mom was a world-class horder so that there are barely pathways through the canyons of boxes and trash. The wrinkle in the job is the aggressive and angry ghost who refuses to allow the upstairs to be cleared.
...She motioned for Sadie to follow but movement at the top of the stairs caught Sadie's eye.

A deep male voice shouted "Get out of here!"

Sadie stared up the stairs to see the furious face of a large middle-aged man standing on a pile of boxes in the hall above.  She froze.

"Get out!" he roared, waving an angry fist.

Sadie realized Paula was talking.  She and Zack had entered the den up ahead and were oblivious to the meaty Neanderthal screaming angrily from the top of the stairs.

Sadie narrowed her eyes at the man who stood shouting and positively snarling at her.  Saliva dripped from his ghoulish grin and his massive hands opened and closed into tight fists.  Even though Sadie was positive he was a ghost, she couldn't help but feel a little intimidated.  The spirit was well over six feet with a barrel of a chest straining against a sweatstained undershirt and long hairy legs protruding from ugly green boxers.  His lips were ruby red cherries against the gray complexion of the dead.
This ghost manages to throw heavy objects and even breaks Zack’s ankle. Among the items being thrown around by the ugly brutish ghost in green boxers is a box containing the 17-year-dead body of a baby. Enter the police.

To complicate Sadie’s life, Zack is up to more with his ex-girlfriend than just lending a helping hand…could he be falling into his old bad habits again?

I have noticed that each book has considerable developments happen between books and I have to say that Zack and Sadie’s relationship mostly developed off the pages. I think readers typically like to get to know the romantic interest over a few books and have some tension there. Thus it seems sudden that their relationship is going through serious problems already.

Wendy Roberts does a great job of bringing you immediately into the middle of Sadie’s world. Sadie is an interesting character who is facing industrial strength stress in this book which seems the major focus rather than the mystery. Will Sadie deal with her grief over her father’s death and finally help him cross-over? Will Zack get his act together or is this the end for them? Will Sadie get rid of the big angry ugly ghost so the police can investigate?

This seems the darkest of the books so far with all Sadie is facing personally. Sadie missed some obvious clues and was totally oblivious to threats and danger closing in. Danger draws closer with each chapter and there is a bit of a nail-biting climax.  It seemed that Sadie was completely distracted with her personal life and the mystery unfolded around her rather than her doing any serious sleuthing. Don’t get me wrong - it is a good story that kept me reading but I would have appreciated more of an emphasis on the mystery. It pulled me into the drama and I felt emotionally involved which is a testament to Ms Robert’s talents.

Maeva (of Madame Maeva’s Psychic Cafe) and Louise are return characters for the paranormal aspect of the story and I enjoy both for the fun and flavor they add. Also returning in this installment is good old detective Petrovich, the recently divorced middle-aged cop who is becoming one of my favorites. A new addition and potential future romantic interest is Detective Floyd Grayson. The supporting cast is strong with these well-drawn characters and I look forward to watching them progress.

What do you think?  Is this the sort of book for you?

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

For your enjoyment, here is a recipe I love.
Pink Lemonade Pie
Prep Time: 10 Min
Ready In:  2 Hrs 10 Min

Original Recipe Yield 2 - 8 inch pies


1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (6 ounce) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate (or limeade),thawed
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 (8 inch) prepared graham cracker crusts.


In a large bowl, mix together sweetened condensed milk and lemonade concentrate.
Fold in whipped topping. Pour into pie crusts. Refrigerate until completely chilled.

Amount Per Serving Calories: 253

Total Fat: 11g
Cholesterol: 8mg

Until next Monday, I wish many mysterious moments.
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Tales of Whimsy said...

Pink lemonade pie sounds divine!

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