Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Death is a Relative Thing

By Gail Allison

April Serao is living in infamy. Her husband Sal died six years ago while having sex with her, and now she’s raising three teenaged boys alone. Needless to say, her love life has pretty much all but dried up as she’s become her own urban legend. Men see her and run the other way! April’s mother decides that the two of them are going to see a world-famous psychic together, and he ends up knowing a lot more about April than she’d like to admit. After her reading is over, Sal decides that he’s going to stick around. He needs to right some wrongs down on earth before he can earn his halo in Heaven, and he needs April’s help to do it. In the meantime, Sal is determined to weigh in on April’s blossoming relationship with Jack (a colleague from out of town) and help her through some sticky situations.

This book was part paranormal, part romance, part mystery, and all fun. A quick read, Death is a Relative Thing was super easy to pick up and put down, but the story line definitely kept me hooked. Ms. Patrone’s writing style is very similar to Janet Evanovich. Much like Stephanie Plum, April’s speech is peppered with humor and sarcasm, and she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind. She is a strong character, who has proven to the world that she can make it on her own, and now she’s ready to have a relationship on her terms. Unfortunately, Sal keeps getting in the way, but that certainly adds to the hilarity.

I do wish Ms. Patrone had written the character of Sal (the dead husband) to be a bit more likeable. He comes across as brash and overbearing, and he never wastes an opportunity to trash-talk April’s new boyfriend, which I found quite irritating. For someone looking for the kind of help that he’s looking for from April, he doesn’t seem very grateful to her for putting her life on hold to assist him in his quest for a halo. I kept thinking to myself if I were April, I’d be tempted to tell Sal where to go and how to get there, with the attitude he keeps bringing to the table.

That being said, if you can get past the “dead husband coming back to Earth to complete tasks to earn his halo” paranormal piece of this novel, you will probably enjoy it. It’s a fun ride, watching romances develop (yup, there’s more than one), and learning about April’s motley crew of friends. All of the characters (not just April’s) are very well developed, to the point that you can anticipate their responses in the witty repartee throughout this book. You really feel like you’re a part of a big, boisterous Italian family when you’re in the middle of this book, and I think that’s why this novel works so well. Ms. Patrone will wrap you in a blanket of family, friends, and fun, and if she has any more April Serao books in the works, I would definitely be interested.

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