Casey is a woman on the run. She’s not running from the law or from an abusive relationship, but from her past. We learn that Casey’s husband and son were killed in a car accident. She subsequently learns that their car had known mechanical problems and the manufacturer wants Casey to remain silent. Not really a problem since she doesn’t want to discuss her husband and son with anyone, except possibly her travelling companion, Death or the Grim Reaper.

Casey hitches rides, first from motorcyclists and then from a trucker, and she ends up in Clymer, Ohio – hometown to HomeMaker, an appliance manufacturer. Clymer is truly small-town USA and is suffering from the recent death, supposedly a suicide, of one of its own. The town is also dealing with the idea that almost all of the people in town will soon be unemployed when HomeMaker closes its doors and relocates to Mexico.

Casey is soon embroiled in the personal woes of this small town and tries to help out. She helps her new friend Eric, with this soup kitchen and then with the town’s production of Twelfth Night. She tries to be there for Eric as he deals with the death of his friend Ellen, but this is a town on the edge. The play’s director assumes she is there to watch over him and ensure he repays his gambling debts. The town’s sheriff assumes she must be there for some other nefarious reasons.

Casey and Eric try to determine the true nature of Ellen’s death — murder or suicide. This question becomes even more worrisome when they learn that Ellen had predicted that the town wouldn’t be suffering from the plant closing and that everything would work out. Of course there are lots of little twists and turns throughout the story. There are also numerous discoveries made by Casey and Eric, some personal and others relating to their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Ellen’s death. Regrettably Death doesn’t have much to say in assisting in this investigation, but you often wonder if he is the reason Casey decides to stay in this small town.

Ms. Clemens has written a great mystery with truly interesting characters. I was introduced to Ms. Clemens the author when I was asked to read and review an ARC of  Flowers for Her Grave earlier this month. I was so captivated by the characters in the third book of the Grim Reaper mystery series that I promptly went online and purchased the first in the series, Embrace the Grim Reaper. I can’t wait for the second book, The Grim Reaper’s Dance, to be made available in ebook format so that I can read that as well. 


Day 93 – Early Reader Review: FLOWERS FOR HER GRAVE

I read, I smiled, I laughed, and I truly enjoyed this book. Although this is part of the Grim Reaper series by Judy Clemens, it is the first book in this series that I’ve read. It is also the first book from a series that I’ve read that didn’t leave me feeling as if I had to read the previous books in order to understand what was happening (although I do feel that I will be reading them just becuse I enjoyed this one so much). It took a little bit of getting used to someone, namely Casey Maldonado, having “death” or a grim reaper as a companion, but L’Ankou is part of what makes this mystery so light-hearted and fun.

Casey is still dealing with the grief of losing her son and husband in a car accident, not to mention severe albeit superficial injuries from a recent fight. She is trained in hapkido, a form of martial arts, as well as being an athletic trainer. We meet her and L’Ankou as they are travelling on a boxcar running away from Kansas. It appears that she previously was running away from Ohio, the scene of her husband and son’s death, and from being a murder suspect. Her travels take her to Raceda, Florida where she starts work at an apartment/condo complex as a fitness instructor/athletic trainer. Needless to say that trouble is not far behind. Casey, now known as Daisy, discovers a badly injured woman who subsequently dies. Of course she must investigate and quickly jumps to all the wrong conclusions. What is interesting is the often comedic and quirky changes that L’Ankou makes. When he is around a police officer, he dresses as one with a name tag to fit. He also dresses in a kimono upon learning that Casey/Daisy has been invited to a Japanese restaurant. Most people don’t see Casey’s companion but a few, those that don’t fear death, are capable of seeing him. This makes for interesting exchanges as Casey apparently must speak aloud to respond to L’Ankou and others can’t see him and presume she is speaking to them or that she’s just crazy.

I think quirky is the correct word to use in describing this book. Ms. Clemens has created characters that are realistic and all-too humans with their faults. L’Ankou, although not human, seems to have just as much to offer as his human companion and it this relationship that makes this book work. Casey needs L’Ankou as much as he seems to need her. She needs the connection to her deceased husband and son and L’Ankou needs to live vicariously through someone that can see him, interact with him and accept him for what he is…death. 

Look for this title to be released in early August. 

A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was made available to me through netGalley’s advanced reader program and by the publisher,  Poisoned Pen Press. I thank them both for this opportunity. I was not paid, required nor obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”