Series: A Ghost Duster Mystery #1
Genres: Paranormal Mystery
Published by Obsidian on 4 December 2007
Wendy Roberts’ new paranormal mystery series features Sadie Novak, a professional crime scene cleaner and part time medium. Often ghosts remain when people die violently and Sadie helps them come to grips with what has happened to them, much to the dismay of her partner and ex-cop Zack Bowman. When Sadie is hired to clean up the murder-suicide of Trudy and Grant Toth, she meets Trudy’s ghost who insists that Sadie prove Grant’s innocence. Trudy won’t talk no matter how Sadie tries to convince her, making it difficult to glean much information.
Sadie is a complex character. She started seeing ghosts after her own brother committed suicide and set up her business Scene-2-Clean after having to clean up after the mess he left when he died. She wants to protect grieving families from having to go through the same process that she did. At times she resents the interference of the ghosts but she tries to help them where she can. She knows she cannot see the ghosts of people who have committed suicide but part of her still hopes that one day she will find her brother. Given her background, it makes sense that she tries to uncover the real killer of Trudy despite the danger and multiple warnings from Zack to steer clear of the case.
Zack by the way functions as the mouthpiece of the police – he knows their tactics as he used to be one and he has friends that feed him juicy bits of information which are duly passed on to Sadie. He tries to protect her from herself, particularly when various attempts are made on her life.
The plot however is needs bulking up as there are only two possible killers to pick from. Of these two, it is unfortunately pretty obvious who is THE ONE. There are two types of mysteries– those where the reader spends the entire novel working out whodunit and those where you know who the killer is and you have to determine how they committed the crime and why. I don’t have a problem with this novel falling into the latter category, but the fact that I worked out the why and guessed the how fairly early on was an issue. Opening up the suspect pool a little would have helped to rectify this. Pacing was another problem as Sadie would stop and start her investigation to clean up other crime scenes. It is as if the local criminals conspired against her solving the case by committing all manner of heinous violent crimes. Zack could have easily handled some of the scenes while she played amateur detective.
Remains of the Dead is a solid novel that is more successful in its characterisation than hiding the villain. The concept is intriguing and I’m interested to see where Roberts goes with this series.