I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Cali Taylor, ghost detective. Phantasmic!
In Margo Bond Collins’ debut novel Waking Up Dead, Cali Taylor wakes up, well, dead in Abramsville, Alabama, miles from where she was murdered in Texas. No guru-ghost arrives to usher Cali into her afterlife gig. Instead, she ethers solo, spending her days and nights eavesdropping on Abramsville’s citizens and wondering why she’s not sipping cloud-cocktails with the archangels.
Being a ghost is deadly boring until a routine night of haunting ends in a gruesome crime. Cali scours the town for anyone who can commune with ghosts. After scaring the piss out of a few people, she connects with Ashara, Maw-Maw, and Stephen who help her gather evidence to solve the crime.
Riding shotgun with the criminal investigation is a review of racism in the South, a subject granted endless floggings by authors and for good reason. (Can’t we all just get along!) As a passenger with the main plot, awareness of modern-day racism is not overt, but builds as evidence against the criminal mounds and a romance emerges.
Waking Up Dead hearkens Scooby Doo, say if Velma was a ghost. The story’s tone is light despite the murder and racism. The key characters develop along the same aerial line as the story’s tone. Cali’s character is flippant, Ashara and Maw-Maw’s are a bit stereotyped, and Stephen is sturdy. Cali amuses herself with a few too many being dead jokes; the first few helped cement the character as a spiritual entity, but the remaining felt hokey. But the jokes played along with the tone of the story as the diverse characters solve the mystery and bring justice to evil.
Waking Up Dead’s ending left the door open for a series; yet, I checked Collins’ site and it looks like she’s moved on to a series about Vampire Hunters, called Legally Dead, which is due out this year (2014) from World Weaver Press. If light paranormal mysteries are your pleasure, check out Waking Up Dead. It’s available in paperback and e-book from most major online bookstores.
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