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DEAD AND KICKING
By Wendy Roberts
Obsidian, 2009 ($6.99)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Sadie Novak has had a hard day. She and her mother have returned to the family home after her father's funeral, and are wishing the friends and relatives who've come to offer comfort and casseroles would just go home. Sadie seeks solace in the bathroom, where she gets a major shock. She is not alone; her dad — her dead dad — has rudely disturbed her solitude. Okay, she's not as shocked as many people would be, since she's used to finding lost souls during her work cleaning up the mess left behind by the deceased. They usually have unfinished business, and she helps them complete their mission and pass over to the Other Side. But why the heck is her dad still hanging around? She asks him, and he says he really doesn't know the answer to that.
She is at first annoyed with dear old dad, but then she realizes this is her chance to tell him all those things she didn't get to say, and ask him all the questions she didn't ask. Her friend Maeva, a psychic, warns her not to be selfish. She needs to help him figure out why he's still in the earthly realm, then let him go.
Zack, her hunky partner and significant other, has been acting weird the last couple of weeks, saying he's going to the gym way more than usual. The night of the funeral, she spots his car leaving their house and follows him. He bypasses the gym, stops at a house in the suburbs, and enters. Not knowing what else to do, she charges up and knocks on the door. The woman who opens it is no stranger. Zack has some 'splaining to do! He does: he's doing a favor for an old friend whose mother is a hoarder. The older woman is no longer living there, and her daughter needs to clear the piles of junk so the house can be sold. When she and Zack started tackling the mess, they knew it would take a team, and she offers the job to Sadie and Zack's company, Scene-2-Clean.
They can certainly use the money, but there's one drawback. The upstairs rooms are guarded by a very angry ghost who, unlike most spirits, can manipulate physical objects. In one of his fits, he injures Zack, but the worst is yet to come. Several boxes fall and break open, and something very unexpected and disturbing is discovered amidst the debris from countless garage sales, flea markets, and the personal belongings of the owners. As she digs further into the mystery, it becomes painfully obvious that Angry Ghost Guy is not the only one who wants to hurt Sadie.
This is the third in the Ghost Dusters series, after the excellent debut, THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD and DEVIL MAY RIDE. There are several series out now that feature protagonists with similar abilities; some are very good, but this is my favorite. Sadie's job, while gruesome, is interesting and necessary. She not only cleans up whatever remains of a decomposed body, but is able to act as a ghost whisperer to help lost souls cross over. Her characters are all true to life, and her relationship with her deceased father in their last hours together is touching and poignant. I highly recommend this series.
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