Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook
and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.
It’s been two years since Skye Mertz agreed to drive Abe’s Taxi for the Dead, transporting his zombie workers back to the man who gave them an additional twenty years of life. She’s raising her daughter, with the help of her ghostly mother-in-law, and keeps looking for what killed her husband the night she died.
Now she has a partner—a housewife working off her zombie husband’s service—and she’s met a sorcerer with amnesia. It shouldn’t be surprising that a broken hearted ghoul, bent on getting revenge, should show up too. After all, there’s no rest for the dead.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Broken Hearted Ghoul by Jim and Joyce Levene is a 2014 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Two years ago Skye and her husband Jacob were killed in an accident. Skye made a deal with Abe so that she could see her daughter, Kate, to adulthood. So now Skye is a zombie with 18 more years left to live. She also has to drive the death taxi for Abe. When a zombie's 20 years are up, Skye must pick them up and return them to Abe. This is not the easiest job in the world because some zombies refuse to go quietly into the night. To complicate matters, Skye now has a partner named Debbie who has taken on her zombie husband's debt to Abe. Two other issues that Skye has to deal with are her mother-in-law, Abby, who also happens to be a ghost, and a sorcerer that has lost his memory named Lucus.
When Skye and Debbie sent to make a pick up in the death taxi, they discover the zombie is dead, really dead. This begins a disturbing trend and now all the zombies are in danger of being murdered.
As Skye attempts to figure out what is going on she finds out more about the mysterious Abe and his twenty year bargain he makes with all the zombies which could lead her to a prime suspect. Any future Skye could have with Kate is on the line as she faces a final do or die showdown with the murderer.
This cozy mystery is outside the box for sure. With the popularity of Zombies at this moment in time, this book will appeal to a wider audience than just lovers of cozy mysteries. Now, if you read a lot of cozies, you will know the genre can become a little sugary sweet at times. This cozy is pretty dark compared to the usual fare in the genre. There is no danger of having a sugar rush when reading this one.
The zombies are like humans and have all made a strange bargain with Abe. They can live another twenty years as a zombie if they will work those twenty years to pay off their debt to Abe. For Skye the only reason she made the deal was so her daughter wouldn't be orphaned like she was. So, by the time her twenty years is up, Kate will be an adult and Skye can move on in peace. But, she will not get to see her daughter grow up if the zombie killer isn't eliminated.
I am pretty sure this is a first in the series book, so you may find a few irritating loose ends. Lucas, for one. He apparently has quite a past and is somehow connected to Skye. The last information we get on him sounds a little ominous. So, there are few things that you will have to wait to find out.
I wasn't sure how a cozy mystery with zombies as the main characters would work out. However, I found the book to be entertaining and refreshing in the sense that it's not a cookie cutter cozy which can wear a little thin after awhile. I applaud the authors for excercising their imaginations and coming up with something completely original. Overall this one is an A.