It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, as I got a part in a new play at the Breakthrough Theatre in Winter Park - it's called "The Library," written by Scott Z. Burns. A very powerful drama, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has never seen it. Very relevant, very moving, and quite frankly, very sad.
However - - that doesn't mean I haven't had time to read at all. In my spare time between work, rehearsals, learning lines, and Christmas shopping, I've managed to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to read the latest Odelia Grey mystery, A Body to Spare.
Odelia Grey is a middle-aged, overweight paralegal (and, coincidentally enough, so is her author, Sue Ann Jaffarian!) who has an uncanny knack for stumbling across dead bodies and getting mixed up in some rather exciting and often-times adventurous murder mysteries. Jaffarian has an excellent skill at writing well-fleshed-out characters who literally jump off the page and read very much as real people. Their reactions to situations, their interactions with one another, and their love and concern for each other instantly make the reader fall in love with them and root for them (regardless of what illegal activities they might be involved in...)
This time around, a body is discovered in the least likely of places - the trunk of Odelia's car! While getting her car washed, the employees of the car wash facility open the trunk to discover the body of a naked man. The body turns out to be none other than Zach Finch, who disappeared years ago when he was still a teenager. Who killed him? Who put him in Odelia's trunk? And of all the cars in the world, why her car? Needless to say, Odelia's in the thick of things again.
While Jaffarian does not utilize all of the supporting cast in this mystery (and Odelia does have quite a large supporting cast!), we do find out what is going on with most of them. Her boss, Steele, has gotten married and is off on his honeymoon; her brother, Clark, now retired from the police force, is working full time with Willie Proctor - a con man who remains in hiding, yet runs a number of 'legitimate' businesses; her mother is living not far from Odelia and her husband in a retirement community, still maintaining her blog; Elaine Powers is still staying under the radar and watching out for Odelia; Dev is set to retire and move to Seattle to be with his new girlfriend; Seth and Zee are always there to come to Odelia's aid (this time, Seth acting as her attorney); and Odelia herself is working part time for Steele. And there's a surprise guest star in this one...
The police are all over this one, but they aren't alone; since the deceased was kidnapped, it falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI. So not only does Odelia have to deal with the new police detective Fehring, but she also is under the scrutiny of FBI Agent Shipman, both of whom are very adamant about Odelia keeping her nose out of this one.
Then, of course, there's that special guest star - Emma Whitecastle. Of course, I wasn't really sure who this was right away...until she started talking about the fact that she can talk to ghosts. At which point, I began to suspect who she was and quickly contacted my friend Kevin, who has read some of Jaffarian's other series. Sure enough, my suspicion was correct, that Emma Whitecastle is the lead character from Jaffarian's "Ghost of Granny Apples" series. While I have not read any of the books in that series, I have heard good things about them. And now that Jaffarian has crossed over the characters, it makes me wonder if perhaps Odelia won't pop up in that other series, or if Jaffarian might even write one mystery starring both of these sleuths. If she did, I'd be right there to buy it!
I definitely cannot recommend these books enough. I used to sing the praises of Lilian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who..." series back in the day (although the last few books in that series were definitely ghost-written, as the style and plotting was considerably different), and the Odelia Grey mysteries far surpass even those mysteries. A fellow mystery-lover, Dina Stout, turned me on to this series, and I am definitely grateful she did (being a paralegal myself, plus a lover of mysteries, it was right up my alley).
Can't wait for the next one to come out!
RATING: 10 surprise-filled trunks out of 10 for such great, fun storytelling and lovable characters!