dead serious 2 coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel


Things are going well for Tristan Everett and his boyfriend, Danny Hayes. The men have clicked right from the beginning and Danny is there for Tristan in ways he couldn’t even have imagined. The one stumbling block is that Danny has no idea Tristan has suddenly gained the ability to see ghosts and Tristan knows that things can’t go too much further between them until he finds a way to tell Danny the truth.

The situation gets more complicated when one of the residents of Danny’s father’s care home passes away. Tristan immediately recognizes that Mrs Delores Abernathy is showing signs of arsenic poisoning. It is an antiquated murder weapon and Tristan and Danny have no idea who would want to kill a sweet old women with Alzheimer’s. While Danny encourages Tristan to stay out of the investigation, Tristan can’t help but want to figure out what happened to Delores… particularly since her ghost is currently following him around. Sadly, Delores’ dementia at the time of her death means she is not able to offer any clues as to who killed her. But Tristan knows the only way to send her off into the afterlife is to help her resolve any of her unfinished business. Fortunately, Tristan has Dusty, his ghostly drag queen friend, to help him out.

The case takes Danny, Tristan, and Dusty through a bunch of senior citizen suspects, as well as giving them a chance to learn more about Delores’ past. However, as they get closer to the killer, their lives are put in danger as well. Now the men must discover who murdered Delores before it is too late. And Tristan must find the courage to share the truth about his ghostly interactions with Danny if they can move forward with their relationship.

This is the second book in Vawn Cassidy’s Crawshanks Guide to the Recently Departed series and it continues following the relationship between Danny and Tristan. The mystery stands alone just fine, so you could probably start here, but you will miss details on some of the personal side of things. Things are going so well for the men and both are happier than they imagined they could be. In fact, both are giving thought to possibly moving in together. For Danny, he has to work up the nerve to ask. For Tristan, he has the added complication of the fact that Danny still doesn’t know he can see ghosts and he has no idea how to tell him, which leads Danny to worry Tristan is pulling away. Fortunately, things do get resolved on that front here and the men end up in a great place. This story really showcases the bond between Danny and Tristan and how much they care for each other. There are some really sweet and tender moments, particularly with Danny supporting Tristan in his father’s care. I like these guys together a lot and think the relationship between them is progressing well.

On the mystery side, we have a two-part investigation as Danny tries to figure out who killed Delores, while Tristan wants to help resolve her unfinished business so her ghost can move on. The murder mystery involves a bunch of old ladies who are mostly wild and inappropriate. I found the investigation interesting, though the ending fell a little flat for me given what felt like a super weak motive for the killing, which seemed to lean a little silly. However, Delores’ unfinished business ends up being quite sweet and the two mystery storylines work well together. The book also introduces some other paranormal mysteries involving Tristan that are just starting to be developed. The tone in this part feels a little different than most of the rest of the supernatural side of things, but I think it will be interesting to explore as the series continue. My only other quibble is that while the vast majority of the time the story takes great care to treat Delores and Danny’s father’s dementia with respect and gentleness, there are a couple of times where it feels like they are making some fun at Delores. Danny and Dusty get exasperated at times that she keeps wandering off, but comments like Dusty was talking to her like a “toddler” bothered me. As I said, in most respects the story handles this issue with a lot of sensitivity, but there were a few places where it felt played for a bit of a laugh.

This was another great installment in this series and I found it lots of fun. I love seeing how things are developing between Tristan and Danny and am curious about the new paranormal elements that arose in this book. If you enjoy paranormal with a bit of humor and some law enforcement suspense, this book and series are worth checking out.

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