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DEAD FOR THE MONEY
by Peg Herring
LL Publications, March 2012
246 pages
$12.99
ISBN: 0957152701


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Though Seamus may be dead, he isn't ready to continue his post-death journey; he lingers on the cruise ship that is the space between death and "what lies beyond," whatever that may be. Occasionally he pursues his in-life profession of private detective. He goes back and tries to clear things up for people who are also not quite ready.

William Dunbar is one of those people. He wants to know if he really committed suicide or if, as he fears, his grandson Bud pushed him off that cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. Seamus decides to accept the case. He is far more reluctant to take on a partner, but does so against his better judgment. Mildred wants to go back as well, but her motives are less altruistic than they seem at first glance.

Seamus and Millie (a name Mildred hates) find that just about everyone has a both motive and opportunity. The only person Millie is absolutely convinced is not the murderer is Dunbar's granddaughter Brodie. There are undercurrents of emotion and financial interests flowing among all of Dunbar's relatives and servants. Seamus is hard put to rule out anyone, and Millie's insubordination makes his task all the more difficult. She thinks that she can "fix" Brodie's insecurities; Brodie thinks the voice in her head is evidence that she really is crazy.

The chase at the end of DEAD FOR THE MONEY takes place on the Mackinac Bridge, between lower and upper Michigan, a fantastic and lovely structure. The suspense is enhanced by the details about the bridge that Herring provides. Anyone afraid of heights will almost certainly not be comfortable reading this portion. Or anyone who has driven a Yugo over a bridge.

Herring's ability to make this plot device work amazes me. While not even attempting to give the reader a vision of what Heaven and Hell are like, or even if they exist at all, she creates a place that most people can accept. She creates characters that are believable, and pre-death scenarios that could easily occur. The ability to place Seamus in any place or time period gives this series great flexibility, while the constraints she places upon Seamus give a structure that makes him less than omniscient or omnipotent. I look forward to more in this series, as should many other readers.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, December 2012

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