Had I known the concept of this Dead Detective series, I might not have agreed to read the book for possible review. When I was telling my husband what the book was about, he gave me this one-eyebrow-raised look. "A dead guy is a detective."
"Okay…" with that he went back to reading the newspaper.
This is the second book in the series that debuted with The Dead Detective Agency and introduced Seamus, a man long-dead, who doesn't care to go to whatever awaits him beyond the portal. He'd rather go back to the living and solve crimes. So that is what he does. The concept sounds a bit too far-fetched when simply explained like that, but in this series the concept works. I was surprised to discover how well it works.
One key to effective reader engagement is to give her a character that she can like and relate to. Now, I can't relate to the dead aspect of Seamus, but his desire to do right and seek justice is something that resonates with me. And Seamus is just enough of a quirky sort of guy that you want to stick with him to see what he is going to say or think next. He is a bit of a philosopher and shares bits of wisdom like this, "That's what it's like to get old, Seamus thought. Tiny victories over a rebellious body. Small achievements that help you believe it isn't over."
Cases to investigate spring from an issue that a newly "departed" person has with thinking his or her demise was not an accident or due to natural causes, and that person is given the opportunity to talk to Seamus to see if he would be able to determine who did the dastardly deed. To accomplish this, Seamus travels back to earth, or his spirit does, and enters a "host" body. He can move from one host to another, so he becomes privy to thoughts that can help solve the puzzle.
Again, that seems to stretch believability to the breaking point, but if a reader simply enters into this with a spirit of fun and adventure, it works. This is a well-written book, fast paced, and filled with interesting characters.
My regular followers know that I am a tough reviewer and very hard to please. I've probably spent too many years editing and have a hard time overlooking mistakes in books I am reading. If I had a rating system here, like some review sites, I would rarely give a book five-stars. For me to do that, the book has to be outstanding and without a single flaw. On Amazon, I will give a four-star rating to a book that is very good, definitely a cut above the average and also without any problems with craft or editing. A three star rating is for books that are good and well worth someone's time to read, but there may be a few flaws. I would give this book 3 and a half stars, because some of the plot points were just a little too convenient and not set up as well as they could have been. Keep in mind, though, that is a subjective opinion, and should not keep a reader from trying this fun book.
I hope you can come back on Wednesday when Peg Herring will be my guest and will answer some questions from Seamus. I'm sure it will be very interesting. How many people get to talk to dead guys?