I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Relatively Dead by Sheila Connolly
Genres: Paranormal Mystery
Published by Independent on 18 May 2013
Sheila Connolly who usually writes the Orchard Mystery and A Museum Mystery series has branched out with what looks like a standalone novel. This novel revolves around Abby Kimball trying to discover why she is seeing people who have been dead for centuries. A chance visit to a historical home triggers an episode and they just keep coming. Fortunately she has kindly history buff Ned to help her.
Abby is in a fairly unsatisfactory relationship as her fiancé pays very little attention to her and seems to only value her cooking and cleaning skills. She recognises this but does little to change the situation until towards the end. Watching the relationship disintegrate was not pleasant and I wanted her to show some gumption a bit earlier.
The biggest strength of this novel is the history and the genealogical research. I have been researching my family history for about 15 years so I enjoyed reading about Abby uncovering her past. The problem was that it focussed more on the genealogy rather than fleshing it out with family history – we got the tree if you like but were missing many of the leaves. Just as people’s eyes tend to glaze over when I recite baptism, marriage and death dates without providing the context, I found it difficult to connect with these people. I think a pedigree chart would have been very helpful in keeping the ancestors straight and showing the lineage. Also, if a family has been established in an area for a while they tend to show up in newspapers, court records etc but Abby ignored this. I wish Abby could have unearthed a diary or connected what she was seeing with real life.
The pacing was awkward as it veered from a distinct relationship section to a research section and back again. There is no real climax in either the relationship or the research as the end results were heavily foreshadowed. The novel ended fairly abruptly which was a shame as we get some genuinely interesting information provided at the end.
Relatively Dead suffers from a lack of focus and this affected my enjoyment. The genealogical section is sound though and if that sort of thing interests you then you might enjoy it more.