A review of The Chick and the Dead (Pepper Martin #2) by Casey Daniels

Read May, 2013

Online summary: “Ever since the former rich girl-turned-Cleveland cemetery tour guide banged her head on a headstone, she sees dead people. Worse still, she hears them—and they won’t shut up! Now it’s Didi Bowman, a poodle-skirted relic from the Great Beyond, who’s bending Pepper’s ear, complaining that her famous author sister, Merilee, has done her wrong. Trouble is, if Pepper proves it, she’ll break the hearts of millions of Merilee’s fans. And if she doesn’t, Didi’s ghost may never go away.

Pepper needs peace and quiet (and rent money), so the cash-strapped ex-heiress agrees to take a job as Merilee’s secretary and dig around the family tree. But when she unearths more than she bargained for—like an illegitimate daughter, a bunch of illicit love affairs, and a possible murder—suddenly a very poisoned pen is all set to write Pepper out of the story permanently.”

My review:

Disclaimer: I really hate writing negative reviews, as I admire the time and effort a writer puts into a book. But, ya know, sometimes…

I’m a sucker for clever titles: Kim Harrison’s modified Eastwood movie titles, Jaye Maiman and Sandra Scoppettone’s altered song titles, John D. MacDonald’s “colorful” Travis McGee titles. So, yeah, when The Chick and the Dead came up as an Amazon recommendation, it definitely caught my eye. Too bad…

Protag Pepper Martin is likeable at least some of the time; at others, though, she’s whiny about the most insignificant things, much like Didi, the ghost who hires her, who’s whiny and petulant almost all of the time. I do love the name Pepper Martin, though, even if I’m far from being a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Pepper’s boss, Ella is supremely annoying. The villain’s are so obvious, even from their first appearance, that, were it not for the fact that one is female, they should sport handlebar mo
ustaches a la Snidely Whiplash. Love interest Quinn is simply a caricature, somewhere between square-jawed Dick Tracy and Lyle Waggoner’s character on the old “Wonder Woman” TV series. Not a single thoroughly-developed character in the entire book.

There are some amusing moments, but, for the most part, the humor seems forced. The narration is, for the most part, clunky and extremely repetitive. And, oh, yeah, “I see dead people” is not exactly a novelty as a plot device, and here it certainly doesn’t receive any original treatment worthy of note.

So, I seriously doubt that books from Casey Daniels will darken my bookshelves in the future. YMMV.

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