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by Brad Strickland and Thomas E. Fuller
Marietta Publishing, September 2003
204 pages
ISBN: 1892669234

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

You have to love a book that starts with a description of how romantic it would be for the couple on the moonlit beach, if only the woman wasn't dead. THE GHOST FINDS A BODY is like that throughout -- facetious, funny, and full of reversals.

Leigh Bradford has been known as 'the Ghost' ever since he wrote a horror actor's best-selling, career-reviving autobiography. Catharine Highwood has been known as the world's bitchiest diva ever since her romance series climbed onto the bestseller lists. Her bratty behavior marks her as 'Most Likely to Be Slaughtered' even before she arrives at the Moonlight and Mimosa romance writer's convention. Daggers are drawn the moment her lawyer faxes Bradford a multi-page pre-convention agreement (with a cheery little note that defaulting on the slightest detail will lead to an instant lawsuit).

Bradford hadn't wanted to be involved with this convention. However, he was between royalties but not between bills when the new owners of The Breakers hotel bribed him into organizing the whole thing. Now he's caught between death and deadlines.

It's the little details that make THE GHOST FINDS A BODY so delightful. Bradford's love/hate relationship with Ricca, the hotel owner's granddaughter. ("I wanted to throttle the adorable child.") Camo the pet chameleon's dismay when the walls are painted a color he can't change into. Ricca's computer games, full of cigar-chomping, anthropomorphic velociraptors. ("One of those damned velociraptors came shyly out . . . clapped on a straw hat and twirled a cane, and broke into a tap routine to the tune of Way Down Upon the Swanee River. He was pretty good.") The true identity of the reclusive author Rosemary Thyme. The snippets of Bradford's latest bodice-ripper, which head up each chapter.

Unfortunately, one little blood type detail used as a plot point is blatantly wrong -- the authors would have been better off not naming types than forgetting that O negative is the universal donor. This is a particularly jarring misstep when everything else is so enjoyably right. Fortunately, it's not a plot-stopper and can be quickly forgotten in the general joy of the book.

THE GHOST FINDS A BODY is a charmer of a cozy -- delightfully oddball characters, a solid puzzle, and sparkling prose. This book was the most pleasurable pleasure reading I've done in a long time.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, September 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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