Title: Dead Man Hand (Dead Man Mysteries Book 3)
Author: T.M. Simmons
Published: September 1, 2012
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Final Rating: 1/5
This is the third book in the Dead Man Mysteries series. I remember reading the first book, Dead Man Talking, because it is free for the Kindle. It is a paranormal murder mystery series, and I enjoyed the first two books as far as “fluff” novels go. A “fluff” novel is anything that I would consider a light read or something that isn’t particularly complex or dense. It’s a nice mental shift from keeping Middle-earth history straight with Tolkien or processing a non-fiction science book. Plus they’re easy to read and help me get to my 2016 book goal.
But back to the book, this is the third book in the series, and the first two were decent reads. Each book features a new mystery with the same characters who have been requested to help out with a ghost that refuses to move on and wants to stay in the area and keep haunting their old homes. Alice Carpenter is a writer with a Rottweiler and Siamese (who are impossibly well-behaved and are smarter than most humans, which requires the biggest suspension of disbelief on my part). She is close friends with Granny, a fiery old lady with quite the accent (reflected in the writing); her Aunt Twila, who is experienced at this whole ghost-hunting thing; and Jack, her ex-husband that Alice still has the hots for but since he doesn’t believe in ghosts, that complicates her lovemaking desires. Each book takes them to a new location with new ghosts, a new murder they have to solve, and new smoldering looks from Jack.
The first two had their flaws, but I read through them pretty quickly. When I got Dead Man Hand, I expected to also read through it quickly (the series itself is only four books). But I got about halfway through and just stuck for quite a few months. The characters hadn’t stuck with me, the ghosts were discombobulated (even for the freshly killed), and it seemed like an awful lot of plodding through the pages with not a lot of developments, so I put it on the back burner until I could get around to finishing it. After finishing it last night, I have to say that I ended up being extremely disappointed in the book.
First, any paranormal book requires a suspension of disbelief. However, I didn’t have to put a hold on my skeptic brain for the ghosts themselves; I had to pretend that dogs and cats can communicate with other creatures as if they were speaking English to each other loud and clear. I had to deal with the last-minute extremely bizarre finale of the book that was, even by the characters’ admissions, completely new and unexpected. I had to pretend that somehow they never noticed a huge plot point until three-quarters of the way through the book, and once they found that plot point, it was just a matter of driving around (rather dangerously that would have killed less lucky characters) until they got everyone in the same spot. Alice seemed completely inept this time and hopelessly googly-eyed over Jack. Granny’s accent was practically word jumble and I really didn’t understand her purpose in this book besides being the cook that keeps everyone fed and comforted by her old backwoods dialect. The ghosts were useless and forgettable for most of the book, even though they were supposed to be the reason why Alice, Twila, Granny, and Jack were there. Apparently everywhere that Alice goes, she never has cell service and might as well start relying on smoke signals (instead of figuring out why she has such awful coverage and if maybe she should switch to another carrier). And did I mention the absolutely ludicrous ending?
So the conclusion is that if I could give it lower than 1 star, I would. Everything was absolutely ridiculous, the plots and “mystery” made no sense, the characters were irritating, and the big impossible finale was so impossible that even the characters were confused by it. It’s a shame to say it because I hate not finishing a series (which is why I suffer through GRRM’s meanderings), but I will definitely not be finishing this series, even if it is a “fluff” novel.
Dead Man Hand is 326 pages and available for Kindle or Audible. Purchase it on Amazon.