TJ O'Connor,
Gumshoe Ghost #2: Dying for the Past
(Midnight Ink, 2015)

This is the second novel in TJ O'Connor's Gumshoe Ghost series, in which the ghost of a police detective is instrumental in solving crimes. I have not read the first one, but there is enough context here that I was not baffled by any events that might have been based on the previous book.

Tuck's (ex?)wife can communicate with him, and does so -- at the risk of looking like she's nuts. His former partner is less willing, though that relationship did change during the course of the story; another couple of former colleagues seem to be slightly sensitive, but unwilling to face the implications. That aspect of the storytelling was nicely done.

Tuck still is discovering the benefits and limitations of the ghostly lifestyle, and that also develops during the course of the novel. I found it interesting, and a useful plot device, that he could "charge up" with electricity and then briefly have poltergeist capabilities -- handy, at least when there is power around!

O'Connor also did an interesting job of giving his ghost(s) different capabilities than those of the temporarily embodied.

However, mostly, there was little character development. The "dames" -- and even though this is mostly set in the present, these are noir-style "dames" -- are less than cardboard in terms of personality -- even Tuck's wife, who is also supposed to be a brilliant professor; Sassy, whose character trait is pretty much being sassy, may be the most dim-witted female in fiction I have ever encountered.

The plot was convoluted -- I think too much so. As I neared the end, the twists came quickly ... to the point where they seemed inane. They all worked -- sort of; however, none of the various "solutions" seemed to me to be any better than the previous several, and if the conclusion of a mystery would be equally probable with any of several endings, I do not consider that to be well-plotted, complicated though it may be.

If you like a noir tone, and historically-inspired mysteries with classic wise guys, spies and plot-convenience dames, you'll probably like this.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

31 October 2015

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