Series: JENSEN MURPHY, GHOST FOR HIRE SERIES
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—3; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: ROC
Only the Good Die Young (2/2014)
Another One Bites the Dust (11/2014)
NOVEL 3: Every Breath You Take
In the midst of Jen's search for her killer, she and her human friend, Amanda Lee, become acquainted with a group of ghostbusters in the depths of Elfin Forest, the same place that Jen met her death all those years ago. For the first half of the book, the ghostbusters don't add much to the story, but eventually, they do become a crucial plot element.
About half-way into the book, Green introduces Kalli, a wiccan, into the mix of humans and ghosts. As soon as Kalli meets the ghosts, she feels compelled to explain myriad details of wiccan mythology, which slows the pace of the action from a walk to a stumble. Green has her reasons for introducing Kalli, but padding the book with superfluous details about wiccan mythology was a mistake. Another example of unnecessary padding is the scene involving the witch of the woods. That scene does add an important clue to Jen's investigation, but it comes across as a deus ex machina because the witch, who has been mentioned but never seen in previous books, has no other purpose but to drop the clue and then vanish.
Other sub-plots include the finale of the ridiculous romance between Gavin and Suze, which I discussed in my review of book 2. That relationship is getting rocky (big surprise!), and Jen feels guilty because she believes that she is to blame.
Then, there is fake Dean, the supernatural being who keeps trying to lure Jen to his home in a starry realm, promising her eternal happiness. Fake Dean keeps up his efforts until Jen banishes him from her life—but then misses him so much that she wishes he would come back. Green has set up a love triangle involving Gavin, fake Dean, and Jen, but it never rings true.
Just as in the previous books, the details of the world-building are muddy. Jenn darts in and out of people's heads, and the dark spirit injures and sometimes kills humans and ghosts, but I was never entirely clear on exactly what was happening. Jen's fellow ghosts rarely, if ever, do the mind-jumping thing that Jen does, even when it could possibly help out the story line, so why can she do it? Green has never really spelled out the rules of this world, so I have never truly understood the powers and limitations of Jenn and her fellow ghosts, not to mention her magic-touched human friends and acquaintances. Jen's ghostly friends just hang around making wise cracks at each other and not helping out much with Jen's investigation.
I really had to push myself to keep reading the first half of this book because it moves so slowly and fails to cover any new ground. The pace picks up in the second half when Green begins to throw handfuls of red herrings into the story—a variety of suspects, any one of whom could be Jen's killer. At that point, the story becomes slightly more interesting, but it doesn't really take off until the final few scenes. By the end of the book, all of the major issues are resolved, so I assume that this is the final novel in the series. This has been a disappointing series that began with an interesting concept but, in the long run, failed to deliver. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
NOVEL 1: Only the Good Die Young
As the story opens, a medium named Amanda Lee (pronounced "A MANdaley") Minter uses her psychic powers to pull Jen out of the time loop she has been stuck in for the past 30 years. Amanda wants to use Jen to get revenge against Gavin Edgett, the man she believes killed her friend, Elizabeth, three years ago. She wants Jen to work her way into Gavin's mind and scare him so badly that he will confess his crime to the police.
NOVEL 2: Another One Bites the Dust
The book has several subplots: Jenn's continuing relationship with fake Dean (a sexy but sinister entity who takes the form of Jenn's high school boyfriend, the real Dean); Jenn's continuing attraction to Harriet's brother, Gavin; Jenn's continuing search for her killer; and Jenn's continuing search for the true identity of the dark spirit. (As the book begins, she believes that the dark spirit might be the ghost of Harriet and Gavin's evil father.) These story lines disrupt the flow of the main plot because they are inserted so awkwardly into the action.
In one of the story threads, Gavin hits it off with Suze, one of Jenn's friends from her human life. At this point in time, Suze is in her early fifties, and Gavin is in his twenties—maybe early thirties—and they are supposedly becoming romantically attracted, making Jenn extremely jealous. For me, this story line is improbable and silly. In the Dean-Jenn story line, the author includes a gratuitous scene in which fake Dean touches Jenn in a sexual manner. The scene comes out of nowhere and goes no further. It's as if the author felt compelled to add some mild sex and couldn't figure out any other way to do it. She has really painted herself into a corner here, because her heroine is a transparent, vaporous entity who can solidify her body only when she is in fake Dean's presence. Even though Jenn is attracted to Gavin, she can't have a physical relationship him because they can't touch each other, so Jenn is stuck with the mysterious, untrustworthy Dean. About all we know about Dean is that he collects ghosts that entertain him, feeds on them until he gets bored, and then turns his attentions to new ghosts—definitely not an honorable hero.
One last nit-pick: I don't wish to be a grammar tyrant, but Jenn constantly makes one very perplexing and irritating grammar error that drives me crazy. Instead of beginning compound-subject sentences correctly (for example, "My friends and I," with "I," the subject pronoun, coming after the noun, "friends")," she begins sentences incorrectly, using "me" (which is an object, not a subject, pronoun) and placing it first: "Me and my friends did this..." or "Me and Twyla went there..." or "Me and Louis talked..." or "Me and Amanda visited...," and so forth. I truly don't understand the author's decision to have Jenn break this basic grammar rule because, in general, Jenn's dialogue and interior monologues are grammatically correct, and her vocabulary is relatively sophisticated (e.g., using words like assuage, dolorous, and fraught). Yet she breaks this simple rule over and over again.
I had hoped that this series would grow stronger, but this book is a disappointment. The author uses the "tell, not show" method of character development, and as a result, her characters are all as flat as cardboard cutouts. In the case of Tim and Nichelle, character development is practically nonexistent. The plot moves at a glacial pace, and the ghost-magic scenes in which Jenn and her buddies invade Tim's mind are so disjointed that I had trouble figuring out exactly what the ghosts were doing. At this point, I can't recommend the series. Click HERE to read an excerpt.