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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Lying in Wait
Liz Nugent
Progress: 28/310 pages
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus
Progress: 72/313 pages
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines
Judith Newman
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Progress: 41/255 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

Dead(is) by Naomi Kramer

DEAD[ish] - Naomi Kramer

I downloaded this because the cute, visually appealing cover art led me to believe it would be a funny book in the same vein as Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job, or possibly even MaryJanice Davidson's Undead and Unwed or Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Yeah, I read a lot more into that cover image than I should have. It really is a nice-looking cover, though.

I'll get this next part out of the way quickly: If you're easily offended by swear words, don't even touch this. I think there are maybe 1-4 per page. Also, if the idea of gay sex, voyeurs, or a heterosexual couple trying to form a foursome with a gay couple offends you, don't touch this. I don't remember the book containing graphic descriptions of anything, though - in this area and in others, this book is more "tell" than "show."

Especially in the beginning, that was my primary problem - readers are told more than they're shown. The book starts off in the first person, from Mike's perspective, and it's quickly clear that, as awful as Linda's treatment of him is, he deserves it. Mike is not a pleasant person, and Kramer communicated that well.

What she didn't communicate quite so well was context. From the way characters spoke, I guessed the story was maybe set in England (Kramer is Australian, so Australia is more likely). There was very little sense of place - I could tell you what all the people were like (for the most part, horrible excuses for human beings), but I couldn't tell you a thing about Mike's place other than that apparently it gave him and Linda a good view of their gay neighbors having sex.

Another problem I had with the book was that the characters had a tendency to talk (or think) about talking to other characters, but  they often weren't shown talking to the characters. There was so much of that in the beginning of the book that it started to feel a little claustrophobic. Then again, if Kramer hadn't done that, the entire story would have unraveled well before the 100-page point - the whole thing depended upon characters not revealing important facts, which wouldn't have been as easy to arrange if Kramer had stepped outside of their heads enough to show them actually talking to each other.

I also had suspension of disbelief problems. Even if I accepted that Trent had maybe dealt with ghosts before and therefore wouldn't see anything wrong with working for one, I found it hard to believe that he just said, "Ok, I'll find your body for you," without even trying to get context. He found out from Mike how Linda died, but he never bothered to ask Linda - you'd think Linda would be the first person he'd ask, and you'd think it'd be considered an important initial question. Later, when Trent talks to the gay neighbors and finds out they initially thought he was a hit man, you'd think that would have set alarm bells off in his head. If I had been him, I certainly would've wondered why they thought Mike might send a hit man after them. Trent does come to some conclusions at that point, but he would've had a much easier time if he had just talked to Linda when she first hired him. Linda didn't know everything about her death, but she knew enough to have cleared up quite a bit of confusion.

The final revelations about what happened to Linda's body were certainly a shock, at least to me. Mike's a bastard, but I hadn't expected quite that level of awfulness from him, and I'd argue that the gay neighbors are almost as bad. They didn't know what they'd done until Mike told them, but you'd think they could have shown some remorse and horror at their part in the whole thing. Any remorseful reactions they did manage to dredge up when they finally reported the whole thing to the police, well after they should have, just came across as fake.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this book. Its primary saving grace was that it was short, and its formatting was nice and easy on the eyes. I skimmed the excerpt for the next book in the series - it has Linda in it, which only increases my desire not to read it. Kramer's got another book out called Maisy May, but the description doesn't appeal to me enough to give her another shot.

I think Kramer might have intended Linda to be a character readers could feel sympathy for - Linda was one of those people who justifies her awful boyfriend's behavior by saying she's so in love with him, so she can't always see how awful Mike really is. While I agreed that Mike was awful, I didn't like Linda much either. You could say that, for me, Mike was the sludge on top of sludge, while Linda was an annoying buzzing fly.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)