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by Casey Daniels
Avon, February 2007
336 pages
ISBN: 0060821477

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Pepper Martin fell during a cemetery tour, hit her head on a tombstone, and woke up seeing ghosts, she thought that she would only have to ever deal with one spook Ė the mafia don whose grave she did a header onto. But now thereís a new ghost haunting her, who claims to need her help not to solve a murder, but to save a child.

Didi Bowmanís granddaughter is growing up in poverty in a foster situation, and Didi is sure that if Pepper can just prove that Didi is the real author of the famous book So Far The Dawn, all the royalties will provide a fantastic life for the girl. The problem is that Didiís sister Merilee has been living off the reputation of the book (and its movie, spin-off merchandise, and hopes of a sequel) for the last half-century without acknowledging Didi even existed.

At least working on the case would be something to do Ė when Merilee announces she is returning home to Cleveland for the reissue of the film and visits her parents' graves as during the photo opportunities, all public tours of the cemetery are cancelled. To help Pepper tide over the loss of her employment, her boss (a huge So Far The Dawn fan) rigs her a temporary job as Merilee Bowmanís new secretary. She neglects to mention that the previous one had been murdered.

But the more Pepper digs around, the more holes she finds in Didiís story. Has Didi been lying to her all along? And if so, what is she trying to cover up from beyond the grave?

THE CHICK AND THE DEAD is a silly, fun book, most of the humor coming from So Far the Dawn pretending not to be completely ripped off from GONE WITH THE WIND. Theyíre not at all alike! So Far the Dawn is a long, romantic, melodramatic, famous, fan-club-founding story about a Northern family in Cleveland during the Civil War.

Because Pepper isnít all that bright Ė late in the book she does something so dumb even Nancy Drew knows better Ė the mystery she solves canít be too complex. Also, murder by overlaced corset was particularly credulity-straining. Iíll spare you the geek lecture and simply say that I have worn civil war corsets. The only way to smother someone with the laces is to wrap them around the neck.

Yet, I still enjoyed the book. It may not be deep or complex, but itís lighthearted and good-natured. If youíre in the mood for an upbeat, non-demanding read, then consider THE CHICK AND THE DEAD for your next rainy afternoon.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, August 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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