In Wendy Roberts' new Ghost Dusters mystery series, The Remains of the Dead, the person bereaved relatives can call to clean up after a homicide is Sadie Novak. Sadie is owner of Scene-2-Clean, one of Seattle's two crime scene clean up companies. Her best friend doesn't want to discuss it, her mother hopes it's a phase, and it certainly puts a damper on dating when it comes to chit chat. For Sadie, though, it's all about providing closure to the family left behind--and helping a few lost souls cross to the other side.
Five years ago, Sadie's brother killed himself, an act that Sadie is still trying to understand. This internal struggle colors her journey throughout the story as she searches for the truth behind a murder/suicide of one her clients. Roberts deftly handles the pain and incomprehension of those who try to understand what can't be explained when it comes to sudden death in less than normal circumstances.
I have to admit what I found most fascinating was the description of Sadie's job. Sure, I knew this kind of work existed, but had never considered the details. Crime scene cleaners dress for bio-hazard to protect against blood-borne pathogens and being cut from bone fragments, among other icky stuff. They need to suck up, cut up, get rid of anything that has been contaminated by human tissue and then put the place back in order. Roberts' research in this area shines through without coming across as an information dump or overly technical.
While there is nothing funny about Sadie's job, Roberts laces humor throughout the story with strong dialog and a solid crew to back Sadie up. She's got her her employee Zach Bowman, an ex-cop and possible love interest down the road, as well as her best friend Pam, sister Dawn, and new-to-Sadie's circle, Maeva the psychic. And then there are the dead who make their presence occasionally known. See, Sadie has a talent, she doesn't exactly broadcast--she talks to the dead. For the most part, this is confined to letting them know they are dead and it's time to face the light. But it doesn't always work as when a murder victim insists her husband didn't kill her and then commit suicide. Sadie can't let it go and soon both her life and reputation are on the line as she searches for the truth.
The Remains of the Dead is an intricate mystery that will keep you glued to the pages. Kudos to Roberts, too, for a twist at the very end that I never saw coming and has me looking forward to Sadie's next adventure available in December 2008. For more information on Roberts, check out her website at www.wendyroberts.com
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