dead serious 5 coverRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Danny and Tristan are stunned to learn that Madame Vivienne has been murdered. The bookshop owner may have been regularly drunk and a bit odd, but she was part of their found family and her death hits hard. The nature of her death is even more shocking, as her body was drained of blood, covered with strange symbols, and her mouth sewn shut. While Tristan can see Viv’s ghostly form, she seems trapped and unable to communicate. The group is determined to figure out who is behind the killing and set Viv’s soul free.

Things are also stressful on the personal front. Danny has a new colleague at work who seems to hate him for no clear reason. The man is supposed to be investigating Viv’s murder, but he spends more time threatening Tris and stirring things up at work for Danny. But it’s hard to focus on that problem when Tristan’s father’s health takes a turn for the worse. Tris has known Martin was in a decline, but he is still not ready to lose the man who is so important in his life.

However, even with so much personal turmoil, things are escalating with the murder investigation as well. As they dig into the mystery, they realize that there is much about Viv’s life that they never knew, including a son she gave up for adoption as a teen. They also uncover even more about the strange Crawshanks family and their twisted past. It appears someone is using dark magic, and their end goal is horrifying to imagine. Now, it is a race against time to find the killer and stop their plans before something is unleashed that could kill them all.

This is the fifth book in Vawn Cassidy’s Crawshank’s Guide to the Dearly Departed series. It picks up in the aftermath of the previous book where Tristan and Danny learn that Vivienne has been murdered. Where that story took the men out of London and away from their group of friends and family for much of the book, this one brings the whole gang back together to solve the latest set of crises. One of the things I love about this series is the extended group of side characters and how Tristan and Danny have built this wonderful family. So it was a lot of fun to see them all working together on this case, each bringing different skills to the problem. The mystery delves deeper into the Crawshanks family, both their history and their recent descendants. Once again, the fate of the world is on the line, but with Tristan, Danny, and the rest of the gang (plus some ghostly helpers), it all works out in the end.

In the front of the book, Cassidy warns the reader that this one is a tear jerker and that “Coming to this part of the story with Tristan and his dad, Martin, was always going to be inevitable.” So I don’t think I am spoiling anything to say that this story deals with some pretty intense themes of grief and loss. Tristan’s relationship with Martin has always been such a lovely part of the series. I have also enjoyed seeing Danny come to know Martin, at least as much as possible given his failing memory and awareness. Over the series, we have known that Martin is declining and here we see things come to conclusion. Please be aware that the scenes of grief here are intense and quite detailed, both as Martin comes to the end of his life and as Tristan handles the aftermath. Some readers may find this part of the book difficult to read, particularly those who have dealt with parental loss. However, I do think Cassidy handles it quite well. The depth of Tristan’s grief is just palpable and we can feel how hard this loss is hitting him. We also see Danny and their friends rallying around Tristan, taking care of him when he needs it, and giving him tough love when it is required. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but it is really moving and intense, and the story does honor to the lovely relationship Tristan has with his dad. Also, as rough as it is, Cassidy does make use of the supernatural storyline to temper things, so we do get a happy plot twist later in the story.

Cassidy notes at the beginning of the book that this book was the end of the originally planned story arc, though now things have been expanded. There appears to be more to come for this series, as well as for spin-offs set in this world. Sam and Harrison play a big role as side characters here, we have already gotten a story for Chan and Death, and we meet a new potential couple here as well. At the end of the book, there is information on a new spin-off series and the story sets it up well. I won’t spoil anything with details, but I am super excited for it. Like I said, I love this group and the found family they have built and there is so much potential for more. I am eagerly anticipating whatever is next!

jay signature