Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dying to Tell (A Gumshoe Ghost Mystery #3)

Author:  T. J. O'Connor
Genre:  Mystery/Paranormal

Five Stars

ISBN #:  9780738742076
Midnight Ink
384 Pages
January 8, 2016

Detective Oliver Tucker never knew how perilous the past was until his wife, Angel, is nearly killed and the reclusive banker, William Mendelson, is found murdered in a hidden vault where ancient Egyptian relics and World War II secrets are stashed.  

Now those relics are missing.  The secrets are coming out.  The dead are talking.

Tuck, the detective for the dead, knows there's more to Mendelson's murder than haunting family secrets and decades-old skullduggery.  With Angel and his detective partners, Tuck's guided by his long-dead grandfather, World War II OSS Captain Oliver Tucker I.  Ollie is still on a mission from 1942 as murderers, thieves, and spies descend on small-town Winchester.

As the case unfolds, Tuck must also confront the growing distance between his death and Angel's life - and the outcome is a killer of its own.


Oliver Tucker is a former homicide detective with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, with a beautiful wife, Angel, a black lab named Hercule, and his best friend is his partner, 'Bear' Braddock.   Did I mention he's also dead?  Now, before you start thinking this is just some dead cop who sits at his old desk and does his job, this isn't that kind of book.  You see, Tuck (as he is known to everyone) is still doing his job...sort of.  Bear can see and talk to him, and so can Angel and Hercule.  But that's about it.  So far.  (Let me elaborate later).  He heard noises in his house one night, went to investigate, and was shot dead on the spot.  Now he's dead, but not gone.
Angel is on her way to a meeting when someone comes running out of the building and grabs her as a shield.  After a couple of useless attacks on the gunman, Tuck becomes filled with rage and strikes the gunman several times, which causes him to release Angel.  Almost immediately, two people come out after him; a security guard and the head of security.  

While outside, Tuck hears a voice tell him 'it ain't over,' and to follow him into the suite of William H. Mendelson, Chairman of the Board, First Bank and Trust of Frederick County.  He enters the office and goes through a doorway which leads to a stairwell into a sub-basement.  He sees a vault, with its door ajar, but before he enters, he looks over at the person guiding him and sees a man in a bomber jacket and baseball cap, who motions him inside.  When he enters the vault, he finds  Mendelson dead, shot through the heart.  When he returns to the surface, he tells Bear and Angel about finding him.  So Tuck and Bear go into the vault, and notice that there are Egyptian artifacts everywhere, but there are no clues as to who the shooter could have been.  While there, Tuck touches something and leads to a flashback (which happens a lot).  This time it's a fire, and a fireman is carrying someone out of the vault, and the fireman following him is struck with something and injured.  Tuck doesn't know what it means, but he does know it means something.  

So now we having the beginning of a very involved mystery:  Who killed William Mendelson, and why?  What does the image of the fire have to do with it?  Why are there Egyptian artifacts everywhere, and where did they come from?  Why is there a secret vault below William's office?  Who is the man in the bomber jacket?  Why is Karen Simms, a bank employee, trying to make deals with all the parties involved, including Bear?  How much involvement does the security chief, Larry Thorne have, and why won't he leave Angel alone?  How is Poor Nic, retired mob boss involved?  Who is the Egyptian woman who keeps turning up everywhere?  And finally, what does Angel have to do it?  All these questions are answered, and more...

Cal Clemons, another detective who is helping Bear work the case, tells him that he knows William, because he used to hang out at the Kit Kat Club, where Cal plays trombone, and was friends with the owner, Keys Hawkins.  Bear, who had no idea Cal did anything else for a living, goes to the club, and not only meets Keys, but also Keys' granddaughter Lee, who runs the club.  And it seems that Lee now has a keen interest in Bear.  Yet Bear is trying to keep her at arms' length until he finds out exactly how Keys is tied into this case and how much he knows about William's murder.

As Tuck helps Bear work the case, he's being tailed by the man in the bomber jacket, who appears at odd times to prod him to something more, but keeps telling him "it ain't what it appears to be."  Cryptic words that Tuck must decipher, and trying to find out who he is in the process.  When he finally does find out that the man is his own grandfather, OSS Officer Oliver Tucker I, with the help of Doc, his great-grandfather, it is another piece of the puzzle of Tuck's life.

With the help of Ollie, Tuck digs into the life of William and finds more than he bargained for.  Not only the fact that William's son Marshal seems to not care about his father's passing, but a life that began on this journey during World War II and brought him to this end in the present day.  It is a mystery that involves not only WWII, but German spies, smugglers, and thieves.

There isn't anything else I can reveal about this book - but, oh, do I want to! - except to say that not only is it well written, all the characters are believable, even Tuck.  Especially Tuck.  We watch him carry on as Bear's partner, unseen and unheard by all around him (again, so far), and struggle with his relationship with Angel:  yes, they're married, but he's dead and she's young and alive, and tells him that she needs time alone, needs to go out once in a while, enjoy herself - without him; which, even as it hurts him, he begins to realize it's true.  But then two things happen that begin to change things altogether, and you will have to read the book to find out what those two things are.

The blurb and the cover should be enough to get you reading this book, but if it's not, let me add this:  I read a lot of books, and many of them are series.  But this is one series that in every book, it adds something new, and just gets better.  If you have not read any of these (this is the third in the series, the first being Dying to Know and the second Dying for the Past) you should.  Start with the first and it only gets better from there.  

There is just enough of a teaser at the end of these to let you know that waiting for the next is very hard indeed, and this one, especially, left me wishing I could dig right into number four (please hurry).  Highly recommended.

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