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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review - Tomb With a View

We are well into October and the nights are getting a chill to them, the air is nippy and smells of coming snow.  I love autumn actually.  I like to think of it as Mother Nature wearing her finest garments before digging out the cold weather gear.  Today we look at a mystery in a cemetery.  A good little Halloween read.

Author:  Casey Daniels

Copyright:  July 2010 (Berkley) 292 pgs

Series:  6th in Pepper Martin Mysteries

Sensuality:  Mild romance

Mystery Sub-genre:  Paranormal Cozy

Main Character: 
Red-head Pepper Martin, cemetery tour guide and ghost whisperer who is a daughter of a prominent surgeon father, and a society mother.

Setting:  Modern day, Cleveland Ohio's Garden View Cemetery

Obtained Through:  Publisher for and honest review

Pepper is teamed up with the most obnoxious volunteer at the cemetery to put a President Garfield Commemoration together.  Pepper whines a lot about having to work with spiteful and mean Marjorie Klinker.  Marjorie constantly drones on about how she is related to James A. Garfield, twentieth President, via an affair and resulting illegitimate offspring.   Marjorie makes it clear to Pepper that she will be her "go-fer" in the commemoration efforts and starts piling it on Pepper.  So when Pepper gets a voice-mail first thing in the morning from Marjorie, she takes her time getting over to the memorial.  When she does arrive she finds Marjorie having taken a dive off the upper balcony onto the floor below at the foot of the Garfield statue.  The police determine there was a struggle and Marjorie was sent flying over the balcony.

Usually Pepper is approached by the dead to help them with something unfinished.  But Pepper is surprised that Marjorie isn't the ghost coming to her, but rather the ghost of President Garfield who stays in the memorial carrying on the presidential work that was cut short by a stalker turned shooter.  Garfield wants the ruckus to stop so he can work!  So why does Pepper dig into who killed Marjorie?  Because she just broke up with her police boyfriend, Quinn who couldn't accept that she sees and talks to dead people.  Quinn makes it very clear that she is meddlesome, so she is determined to solve Marjorie's murder before him.  Pepper also has a stalker since the previous book where she was in a reality show, Cemetery Survivor, about restoring a near-by cemetery.  The stalker is getting closer and she now has a face associated with her fears.

I had not read any of the Pepper Martin series before and it is easy to pick up the background information.  Pepper is used to living the high life until her dad went to jail for insurance fraud, so she is struggling to make a living as the only paid guide at the cemetery.  Imagine Paris Hilton having to get a real job and actually work and you have Pepper's situation down.  Pepper will appeal to some but not all readers.  She is young, brash, and a bit superficial - although she is working on that.  The stand-out character in this book is President Garfield himself.  I felt as though the 1880's social moors were brought to life not to mention Garfield's commanding personality in this one character.  Well done!  The "ex" is sufficiently portrayed as negative in attitude towards Pepper, which spurs her on.  There is an FBI agent that might have potential in future books that surfaces.
I suppose I should have been impressed.  I mean, what with this new ghost having been president and all.  But honestly, I wanted nothing to do with the old guy.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm not used to ghosts by now, and I'm sure not afraid of them.  After all, they've been bugging me ever since the day I hit my head  on one of the mausoleums at the cemetery.  And I've been a good sport about it, if I do say so myself.  I solve their murders.  I help them clear their names and their reputations.  Sure, I've considered bailing on this goofy Gift of mine plenty of times, but in the end, I've never shirked my responsibilities toward those pesky spooks.  They want closure, I give them closure, even if it means risking my own life.

What do I get in return?

I get walked out on by the man I loved.
This is a fast and easy read with a sufficient plot to carry the reader through.  The plot actually has several threads going but they all wrap up well.  The Garfield memorial provides a good setting within the cemetery itself and Pepper's investigating is on par for a cozy.  The big reveal of the murderer had just enough suspense and the wrap-up of the stalker sub plot was perhaps the best scene in the book. 

If you are looking for a light and easy spooky read (similar to Kate Collins' Flower Shop Mysteries) this may be just what you are looking for.

Now for a little Tombstone humor:

"In loving memory of Ellen Shannon, aged 25,
Who was accidentally burned March 21, 1870,
By the explosion of a lamp filled with R.E. Danforth's
Non-explosive burning fluid."
Epitaph in cemetery at Girard, Pa.

"Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake."
Gravestone near Uniontown, Pa.

"Here lies John Yeast,
Pardon me for not rising."
Cemetery in Ruidoso, N.M.

"Here lies Lester Moore,
Four slugs from a forty-four.
No Les,
No Moore."
Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone Ariz.

"I Told You I Was Sick"
Cemetery in Key West, Fla.

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