Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin #1) by Casey Daniels

Book: Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin #1) by Casey Daniels
Release Date: 1 Jun 2006
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fantasy, Ghosts
Summary: She sees dead people
Beautiful, smart, and chic, Pepper Martin never had to work a day in her life -- until her surgeon daddy was convicted of fraud, her wealthy fiancé took a powder, and the family fortune ran bone dry.
Suddenly desperate, the inexperienced ex-rich girl was forced to take the only job she could get: as a tour guide in a cemetery. But a grave situation took a turn for the worse when a head-on collision with a headstone left her with an unwanted ability to communicate with the disgruntled deceased . . . and now Pepper has a whacked Mafia don demanding that she hunt down his killers -- and threatening to haunt her until she does.
Buy It: Amazon

Review: Pepper Martin recently took up a job as cemetery tour guide when her previous jobs weren't cutting it. Things started out okay, there was no paperwork and it paid better than Starbucks, but quickly took a turn for the unusual when Pepper's heel gets stuck in uneven ground and sends her headfirst into the front steps of a famous mobster's mausoleum. Now she's seeing ghosts and one in particular wants her help with his unfinished business. Gus Scarpetti was murdered and the killer was never caught. It's now up to Pepper to uncover the murderer so that Scarpetti can move on and more importantly stop haunting her.
I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of Don of the Dead. I found it to be clever and full of twists and turns. Pepper turned out to be an intriguing 'detective' and I loved reading about all of her strategies to make progress in the mystery. I was surprised with how much of a page turner this book turned out to be. I was very involved with the case and trying to solve it as Pepper gave us new information. It was riddled with action and the problems Pepper had to overcome with a ghost no one else could see as her boss were fun to read about.
Before going any further into my review I want to say that the below ramblings are technically 'spoilers'. However, the examples used only come from the very beginning of the book, nothing you wouldn't find out within the first 30 minutes of reading.
Pepper was a little too materialistic and self centered for my tastes. She was all about clothes, purses and shoes and very descriptive and long winded whenever they came up in the book. She's also got a great chest and every guy ever has to stare at it, which annoys her but when Dan is more interested in her brain scans she gets bitchy and accuses him of being gay. Her boobs are just that great. What bothered me most about Pepper is her attitude towards Joel. Yeah, yeah, the ex-anything is always the scumbag but from what Pepper shares, I honestly felt worse for him. Pepper wants the country club wife lifestyle, doesn't want to work and wants a man who will buy her everything. She never says she loved Joel. Joel dumps her when her father goes to jail for medicare fraud. What does Pepper have to say about all of this? Well she found it unfair that he called off the fifty-thousand-dollar wedding she'd been planning that Joel was probably going to be paying for.
If you're able to withstand Pepper and turn her train wreck into humor, you'll find Don of the Dead to be a quick enjoyable read. If you aren't able to see Pepper's behavior and attitude as humor... well, you'll probably want to stop reading while you still can. There were times when I was able to chuckle and compare Pepper to Desperate Housewives or other shows in that vein, and actually enjoy her character. There were other times when all I wanted was for Pepper to take another nosedive into tombstone and die of hemorrhaging. I genuinely liked Pepper when she was solving the mystery. I liked how she went about things, her thoughts, etc. Pepper was a wonderful character when it counted and when interacting with Scarpetti. I was completely shocked when she actually got an emotional response from me when she was feeling humiliated and upset. Pepper is a very shallow appearing character and yet I feel that she has potential. I don't want to say Pepper grew up or matured throughout the book because I honestly don't think she did, but as she was distracted and got more involved with the mystery she was much less of the person I've described her being in the beginning.

Quotes & Thoughts as I Read:
  • The truth hit me like a whiff of knock-off perfume. Just three days earlier, I was giving this very same tour when I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. The heel of my right shoe snapped off and I went down in a heap and smacked my head on the front step of Scarpetti's mausoleum. When I came to, I was in the ER. The doc there told me I was just fine and at the time, I believed her. Apparently, neither one of us figured leftover delusions into the mix. Don of the Dead is really cute so far but not sure whether it bugs me or not how materialistic the main character is.
  • By the time I left the hospital, I'd convinced myself that things were looking up. I had Dan to look forward to and maybe I could distract him enough to get him to notice the body that went along with my brain. For really, Pepper? These are the kind of women I hate but I really want to see where this story goes...
  • Joel was good-looking. Joel was charming. Joel was going to make my dream of being a full-time CCW come true. That's Country Club Wife, and I was all for it. It would have been my parents' life, only kicked up a notch. A little more exciting. A little more interesting. A lot more stylish. I was ready, willing, and able, and would have gone along for the happy ride if my life hadn't gone down the dumper when my dad's status officially changed from renowned plastic surgeon to just-another felon. Oh boy, I'm not sure who I dislike more. Please, Pepper, grow up over the course of this book.
  • “It's a very big deal. I could have been hit. Or killed. I could have traded in my employee ID card for a headstone.” “Nah!” He stuffed his hands into his pockets and maybe it was a trick of the spring sunshine. I could have sworn I saw him blush. I've gotta say that I've always been a fan of mobster movies. I really enjoy Gus's character too.
  • Quinn scraped a hand through his hair. One strand refused to be corralled, and it hung over his forehead like an inky question mark. It took more self-control than I knew I had not to reach up and smooth it into place. I think Pepper and I are equally infatuated with Quinn at this point, serious yum going on.
  • That's when I noticed a movement out in the street. "Cat," I told myself. "Stray dog. Someone out for a jog." But of course, it wasn't. I inched closer to the window just in time to see a late-model black sedan cruise by nice and slow. I love big windows but at night time everything scares the crap out of me because of them.

Rating: 3½ Bites

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