Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Remains of the Dead-Wendy Roberts

The Remains of the Dead
Wendy Roberts
Obsidian, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451222688

When her brother committed suicide five years ago, Sadie Novak was the one who cleaned out his house in order to spare her parents the pain. Immediately afterward, she quit her teaching position to open up Scene-2-Clean, a firm that performs crime scene cleanups in the Seattle area. She gains immense satisfaction from her work because she saves the victim’s family from the trauma of performing the difficult deed, which can include blood splattered seemingly everywhere. Sadie also has another ability that gives her in some ways even greater satisfaction. She meets the ghosts who were killed in the house and helps them pass on.

Her current assignment is the Toth residence where a murder suicide occurred. There she meets Kent Lasko who she assumes is a ghost. Instead she learns he was a friend of the couple and then she wants to know why he was in the house. He explains that he came to retrieve a piece of jewelry that belonged to his mother that he gave to the victim; he also says he was having an affair with Trudy Toth. Not long afterward, Grant Toth’s mother claims a piece of jewelry is missing and the police find it on Sadie. She believes Kent planted it and this makes her wonder why as she postulates whether he was involved in the two deaths. She begins an investigation that leads to her being shot at twice which makes her dig all the deeper.

This is a breezy paranormal mystery filled with witty at times graveyard dry dialog inside a fascinating yet foreboding plot. Sadie is an amateur sleuth who never quits whether it is cleaning a place or investigating a crime. Her associate Zack Bowman is a disgraced ex-cop; although they have never kissed there is a strong attraction between them. The whodunit is cleverly executed with the heroine obtaining help from Zack and Trudy’s ghost who want the truth known by identifying their killer.

Harriet Klausner