Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dead Man Talking (Pepper Martin Series #5) by Casey Daniels

Back of the Book Blurb:  Heiress-turned-cemetery-tour-guide Pepper Martin is not happy to discover that a local reality TV show, Cemetery Survivor, will be filmed at Cleveland's Monroe Street Cemetery-and she has to be a part of it. To make matters worse, the ghost of a wrongly convicted killer needs Pepper's help to clear his name. But digging for the truth could put her in grave danger.

Review:   Oy!  This is a tough review to write, because I love the solid writing, the well-done mystery, and the characters and subplots kept me interested.  But, and it's a big but, I really disliked the main character, Pepper Martin, because she's a real bitch.  And not the ball-busting, kick-ass, take no prisoners kind, but the vain, self-absorbed, conceited version.  So let's start from the beginning.  This is #5 in the series, but the first book I've read.  Pepper is a reluctant ghost whisperer.  Her "Gift" as she calls it started after she got conked on the head, and she uses it to help the dead solve murders, right wrongs, etc.  Pepper is very particular about which ghosts she will help, explaining that she doesn't want to "waste" her gift.  She decides to help Jefferson Lamar, a former prison warden and convicted (wrongfully!) murderer, who's been dead over 20 years.  She bravely and with lots of spunk tracks down his former enemies, blundering into all sorts of dangerous situations.  But fortunately for Pepper, and unfortunately for the reader, she gets all kinds of lucky, unrealistic breaks.  For example, early one morning she visits the grave of the murder victim and unsuccessfully tries to contact her, when all of a sudden the victim's aged parents show up!  How convenient. But par for the course for our Pepper.  She speaks with the parents, exhibiting a complete lack of empathy and compassion by commenting that not everybody loved their daughter.  And the parents talk to her anyway.  I don't get it.
The subplot involving a locally filmed reality series pitting Pepper and her team of convicts on probation against the local country club ladies in a cemetery restoration contest is completely ridiculous and entertaining.
Obviously my dislike for the heroine has turned me against the book in general, which is a shame, because there's a lot to like here.  Maybe Pepper won't piss you off as much as she did me!

For more information, visit the authors website at