Author: Stephen Osborn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
A Duncan Andrews Thriller
Private detective Duncan Andrews’s best friend Gina is a witch. His dog is a zombie. And his dead boyfriend, Robbie, is a ghost. So it’s hardly any wonder that he uses his connection to the supernatural to help him solve cases. Good thing, too, because Duncan has his hands full. Janice Sanderson, the richest woman in Indianapolis, wants him to find her stripper daughter, Brenda, and another client is having some trouble with a specter haunting her family home. On top of that, Duncan has decided to add dating into the mix, though after Robbie’s death, he’s not sure he’s ready.
When Duncan meets Nick while tracking down a lead on Brenda’s boyfriend, he shelves his doubts and agrees to a date. Robbie doesn’t make it easy on him, showing up to spoil his chances, but that is the least of Duncan’s worries—because one of his clients’ husbands is missing and there’s a serial killer on the loose—one Duncan fears isn’t human.
Set in Indianapolis, a sprawling flat midwestern city that doesn’t exactly scream “paranormal” to most readers, “Pale as a Ghost” is the first in a quartet of Duncan Andrews novels that promises to be a real treat.
Stephen Osborne is a deft hand at comic writing, as proven in his two romance/farce novels “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “Rat Bastard.” But he’s also excellent at paranormal detective stories, which makes him a good bet for fun reading any way you slice it.
Which is sort of an unfortunate expression, given the plot.
Duncan Andrews is just like any private eye—early thirties, quick mind, fine marksman, good intuition. But he also has a boyfriend who’s a ghost, a zombie pet dog named Daisy, and a best friend who’s a centuries-old witch.
I do wish we knew a little more about Andrews’ backstory—although he fills us in on his history with his late boyfriend, high-school jock Robbie. Duncan’s a really nice guy, and although we get to know him pretty well in the here and now, I’d love to have gotten more insight into how he became the guy he is.
The overarching thriller plot involves a paranormal serial killer; but under that eerie umbrella is a series of lesser plotlines, each representing a thread that offers both its own delights and more insight into Duncan’s fascinating circle of intimates. Osborne weaves the various secondary narratives into the larger (and really quite terrifying) one, and keeps the action ratcheting up until the breathless conclusion.
There is romance, of a bittersweet sort. Duncan’s deceased beau can’t make enough physical contact for the couple to have sex. After ten years, it’s beginning to put a strain on the relationship. Both unexpected and logistically intriguing, Osborne’s exploration of paranormal romance is half rom-com and half heartbreak.
Plus, he manages to open the door to book two without a cliffhanger. I do appreciate that.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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