Review: DON OF THE DEAD by Casey Daniels

UnknownDon of the Dead by Casey Daniels

Avon Books – June 2006 ~ 4.5 Stars

In this debut novel that came out before the New Adult genre took off, Pepper Martin needs to grow up fast and hopefully pass her first course in the School of Hard Knocks. Her life plan originally meant dressing beautifully and hanging off her fiancé’s arm after she graduated from college. Then, her father is convicted of fraud and her mother runs off to Florida. Suddenly, Pepper is on her own and trying to survive her first job as a tour guide in a Cleveland cemetery. After she hits her head on Gus Scarpetti’s mausoleum, she discovers that she can see and hear the murdered Mafia don. He wants justice and supposedly she’s the only one around who can provide it.

Pepper is to put it kindly, a ditz. She’s hung up on high fashion – so, not my thing, but I do understand why she wants a better job, preferably one where she can share her knowledge of high-end clothes and shoes. She focuses a bit too much on her appearance in the first book, but after reading the whole series – no spoiler intended, she does grow up. She’s a tall redhead with a 38C chest that she uses to her best advantage and yes that includes manipulating guys who don’t make eye contact when they talk to her, like Quinn Harrison, the detective who tries picking her up at the Cleveland Police Historical Museum when she’s investigating the murder. Pepper also may annoy some readers when she plays the “dumb” card until one realizes she really can’t help being that naïve and she does trust the wrong people.

However she does recognize the fact that Gus Scarpetti isn’t a nice guy. The snappy dialogue between the two enlivens the book and keeps the action moving. The paranormal aspect was very well-handled. Ms. Daniels writes believable ghosts and creates reasonable rules for them in a terrific example of world-building. Still, more description would have helped this story as would keeping Quinn around for a bit longer. Another problem was that Pepper doesn’t consider the ramifications of her actions. Even being naïve can’t rescue you after interrogating a hitman – she finds herself enmeshed in confrontations and needs a rescuer instead of saving herself. Despite the bumpy pacing at times, this was a good introduction to the Pepper Martin series which is available on-line.

Review provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space for the Sept 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

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