cover image Dying Echo: 
A Grim Reaper Mystery

Dying Echo: A Grim Reaper Mystery

Judy Clemens. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (310p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0023-6

In Clemens’s flawed fourth Grim Reaper mystery (after 2011’s Flowers for Her Grave), tough-girl crime-solver Casey Maldonado and her sidekick, Death, hitchhike from Florida to her nameless hometown, where her younger brother, Ricky, has been charged with murdering Alicia McManus, a waitress he’d been dating. In order to prove Ricky innocent, Casey and her “sweet, good-hearted, handsome” new friend, Eric Van Diepenbos, have to untangle Alicia’s complicated, tragic past. In between bashing baddies with her hapkido training, Casey suffers such grief over her dead husband and baby son that she wants Death to take her. She also fights to keep her hormones under control when in Eric’s presence, but the sex role reversal of hard-boiled detective and gentle supporting pal never quite comes off because Casey’s too snarky with Eric and he’s too forbearing for their mutual attraction to be convincing. The self-conscious reverberations of classic detective fiction dwindle off into a few feeble whimpers. (Aug.)