Former rich girl Pepper Martin, reduced to dire financial straits, takes a job as a cemetery tour guide. When she falls and hits her head on late mobster Gus Scarpetti’s mausoleum, she gains the (rather inconvenient) ability to see Gus’s ghost. Gus enlists Pepper to solve the decades-old mystery of his murder. While trying to get to the bottom of the case, Pepper learns that a ghostly “boss” can be hazardous to a girl’s love life and job prospects, and maybe even her life itself.
I was often annoyed by Pepper. She’s ditzy, she’s obsessed with her own bust size, and she needs a lot of rescuing. However, Gus is more obnoxious still. Their bickering is sometimes funny and sometimes irritating. Some of my favorite moments were when Pepper read Gus the riot act.
It’s not hard to solve the crime a few steps ahead of Pepper, but I had fun unraveling the tangle, and the eventual revelation is a surprisingly touching one. The plot does, however, rely a bit too much on Pepper getting in over her head and being saved by deus ex machina.
One thing that’s original and refreshing in the current urban fantasy climate: Casey Daniels hasn’t thrown the entire paranormal kitchen sink into Don of the Dead. There are ghosts, but there aren’t vampires and faeries and demons and incubi and succubi and werewolves and werehyenas and werepigeons and so on, all stuffed into the same story. Pepper has two love interests, and while I’m pretty sure at least one of them is a jerk, neither is a vampire or a were! They’re just normal guys.
Don of the Dead was a fun, light read, and I’ll probably read more in the Pepper Martin series in the future.