Price, Charlie Dead Investigation, 324 pgs. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015. $18.99. Language: PG-13 (62 swears; 0 ‘F’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG
Murray Kiefer can talk to the dead. He lives in a shed in a cemetery, but with his gift he has made friends with some of those interred there making this unconventional arrangement a relatively happy one. Murray’s ability was unknown to everyone, which Murray preferred, until he helped to solve the murder of a young woman and now most people view him as a freak. Murray is retreating more and more into himself and prefers spending time with the dead over the living. Then he begins to hear unknown voices calling for help just like the last time. Now he must decide if he is willing to investigate and discover why these dearly departed are crying out for help or if he will tell no one and remain in isolation where he is safe from the ridicule of his community.
This is the second in a series about Murray and his talent to speak with the dead. The book does well referencing the previous story with enough information that the second tale may be read without reading the first. The overall plot strains believability as it has an adolescent living in a shed in a cemetery with more than one adult aware of the situation, but accepting it. The throwaway subplot of Murray’s mother working as a prostitute and having a drug problem is offered up as enough of a reason why Murray’s living arrangement is allowed to happen. The book offers a mediocre supernatural story of murder, conspiracy, and redemption. Murray does have a sad origin story; however, he is written in a way that leads the reader to see him as weak and rather pathetic rather than overcoming his past and becoming the hero the author obviously wants him to be. Readers wanting a quick story that involves ghosts and murder will find this book acceptable, though underwhelming.
MS, HS—OPTIONAL AEB