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The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Dead Girls Detective Agency
by Suzy Cox

The Dead Girls Detective Agency

By: Suzy Cox

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?

Maybe if I hadn’t slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin–my high school’s reigning mean

girl–or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom’s new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn’t have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn’t have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.

When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I’m dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can’t pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I’m not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess–not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I’ll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?

Review:

As kind of gimmicky stories go, The Dead Girls Detective Agency is just the right mix of hilariously entertaining ghost caper and sassy investigative whodunit. Suzy Cox sure has a knack for writing appealing, snarky sleuths who can poke fun at their own deaths, but, at the end of the day, still get across that it is nevertheless a murder investigation. I don’t even think I cared about the problems with having dead people investigate their own murders, starting with, well, they’re dead, because, gosh, this book was so much fun.

I have to start my praise first and foremost with Charlotte Feldman, erstwhile subway rider and currently investigating her own murder, for making this book such a breezy read. The concept’s not hard to grasp – the book’s title alone gives away pretty much the entire setup, dead teen must solve her own murder before she can move on, but Charlotte mixes things up and makes it fun, starting from the very first scene describing her death. Obviously, being pushed off a subway platform, getting run over, and becoming one big red smear on the train tracks is really no laughing matter, but the way Charlotte goes on about things, even her presumed epitaph, “Here lies Charlotte Feldman. She pissed off commuters. A lot.” (because the police had to shut down the trains for two hours during rush hour, see?), those are the priceless things that makes what would otherwise be a dry and angsty book way fun to read about. Charlotte’s got the snark down pat through her introduction to the Detective Agency, learning the rules of the game (she has to figure out who murdered her before she can get the key to the Big Red Door and be let through to wherever ghosts go next), figuring the ins and outs of haunting, and plowing through the suspects (sometimes literally) until she hits the right one, so hers is a story that’s a lot of fun and never a bore to read even if it’s pretty basic when I really think about it.

Along the way, Charlotte’s helped by the other members of the Detective Agency, a trio of girls who definitely make her investigations way more interesting. Nancy’s the by the books Nancy Drew type while Lorna’s more fast and loose with the clues, but Charlotte, Nancy, and Lorna together, they have some pretty good back and forth banter that, while playing to various ghost stereotypes (yes, ghosts can’t imbibe ice cream as a comfort food or wear anything except the out of style clothes they were killed in, truly appalling), are still pretty darn funny when coming from those three, I swear. Not to mention various investigative antics *cough* possessions *cough* that deserve every single snicker I gave them. The only Agency member I wasn’t so sure about at first was Tess, who seemed like the stereotypical ice queen even though Cox drops a couple of hints that there’s way more to her story than meets the eye, and I only wish the big reveal with Tess’s backstory could’ve happened before the very last chapter because those last couple of details completely changed her character and now I’ll never get a true picture of her character, which is actually quite tragic, until any possible sequel.

The actual investigation, interestingly enough, isn’t the focus of the book until after the halfway point; until then Charlotte spends her time getting acclimated to her ghost status rather than pounding the pavement looking for clues or at suspects, although, like I said, Cox’s writing and Charlotte’s voice keeps the story flowing smoothly. If I had one complaint, it’s that Charlotte spends almost all her time either mostly fixated on her boyfriend David for er moving on too quickly after her death or occasionally on kind of stereotypical bad dude slash ghost Edison that she seems to find her murderer only by sheer coincidence because of the murderer’s connection to David rather than a lot of work on her part (don’t worry, that’s not really a spoiler, it’s not like the book gives any other avenues for possible motives for Charlotte’s murder). In other words, it’s always the person mentioned the least. Oh well, even if the investigation wasn’t really smart (and it’s smarter than what the police did, immediately ruling her death an accident) and Cox has to insist on a triangle, Charlotte and her investigative partners’ ghostly escapades entertain until the very last paragraph.

The takeaway I guess is that The Dead Girls Detective Agency is way more fun when it’s about the dead girls than when it’s about the detective agency. That’s not a bad thing though, not when there’s a sassy girl detective slash ghost on the loose.
Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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  1. Ornella
    October 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I was on the fence about reading this one, but I think I’ll give it a try now.

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