Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Embrace the Grim Reaper by Judy Clemens

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Embrace the Grim Reaper by Judy Clemens. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Embrace the Grim Reaper by Judy Clemens

A Casey Maldonado Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-589-5 (1590585895)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-589-4 (9781590585894)
Publication Date: May 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Judy Clemens introduces a new paranormal series with Embrace the Grim Reaper featuring Casey Maldonado, a woman who lost everything in a near-fatal automobile accident, her only companion now, Death.

Casey inexplicably walked away from the accident that claimed the life of her husband and son; unbeknownst to her, Death had other plans for her. She decides to get away, leaving on a trip to the unknown. Her journey takes her to the small town of Clymer, Ohio, where the primary employer is an appliance company that is moving its operations to Mexico leaving many of the town's families impoverished. The death of a young woman with two small children also weighs on the community. Some believe it was suicide but those who knew her well, including Death, do not believe she would have taken her own life leaving her two children on their own. Death appeals to Casey to get involved in the community and help the people so much in need, and endeavor to find answers to the unusual sequence of events that have enveloped the town.

Embrace the Grim Reaper is part mystery, part social commentary, but entirely entertaining. Casey is only one of a number of interesting characters, and Death is truly unique. Hardly grim in the literal sense, he's frequently witty and charming. The reader will likely share a smile with Casey at some of his comments and actions. In an odd couple sort of way, they make a good pair of amateur sleuths and their first case (as it were) is a remarkably impressive debut.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Embrace the Grim Reaper and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Casey Maldonado's life is over -- at least as she knows it. In one brief moment of fire and wrenching metal, everything important was gone. The car manufacturer was generous with its settlement, but it can never be enough. Her family and friends, not to mention her lawyers, want her to go for more. More money. More publicity. More everything. But Casey is done. No financial gain or courtroom retribution will bring back what really matters. So she packs up, puts her house on the market, and leaves town. Her only companion? Death, who won't take her, but won't leave her alone.

Stopping on a whim in Clymer, a small blue-collar town in the midst of Ohio farmland, Casey discovers a town wrapped in tragedy. Not only is HomeMaker, the town's appliance factory and main employer, moving to Mexico, but the town has been rocked by the suicide of a beloved single mother.

Casey is drawn to the town, and soon realizes that many of the citizens don't believe the verdict of suicide at all. Death encourages her to investigate, and she uncovers information that points to the factory. Was the victim's death a cover-up? Did she truly have the means, as she claimed, to keep the factory from leaving town?

When Casey begins to receive messages that she should leave well enough alone, she decides she'd be better off back on the road, but the murderer can't let her go with everything she knows.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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