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Living With The Dead by Kelley Armstrong

01/09/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Living With The Dead in the USA - or Buy Living With The Dead in the UK

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pub: Bantam Spectra. 372 page hardback. Price: $20.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-553-80664-9. pub: Bantam Spectra. 540 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-553-58854-5. pub: Orbit. 372 page hardback. Price: 14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-732-7. pub: Orbit. 440 page paperback. Price: 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-396-1.

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Working as the PR representative for a society girl with the brains of a bimbo is no work for a sane woman but Robyn Peltier is anything but since she lost her husband. Six months ago, she was happy and well-balanced but then her husband was killed by a woman he was trying to help, Robyn feels the whole world is going down the sewer fast.

When Robyn's client, Portia Kane, asks her a party as a last-resort companion she knows she has hit rock bottom. Except it gets worse when her client is shot and Robyn is suddenly on the run with only her friend Hope Adams to believe her. It's lucky that Hope Adams is a fully paid up member of Weirdsville and reports on the stories the National Enquirer likes rather than the New York Times.

It's lucky, too, that Hope can enlist her boyfriend, the wolfishly attractive Karl. He's bound to able to sniff out the truth. The only problem is that it looks like Hope might have to tell Robyn too much about other-worldly stuff she'd rather not know about to get to the bottom of this case.

There are plenty of people out to get Robyn. For one, there is the detective assigned to the case. John Findlay, aka Finn, is not a city boy neither. He's relocated to Los Angeles for want of a good murder in his home town. He can't fail when he gets direct contact from the newly departed. Except this time his helper is a little longer dead and is keen to be his partner on this case including riding shotgun and scoping out the suspect.

Then there's Adele, a teenager with her own plan that includes the incidental framing of Robyn for Portia's murder. She is quite happy to continue dropping humans until her plan succeeds.

A combination of characters, some of them re-occurring from Kelley Armstrong's previous books, make this a satisfying series read. There's nothing too demanding but the dialogue is witty, the characters neatly and succinctly drawn and you can relax whilst reading it.

It makes no representations, has no pretensions and, as with fellow fantasy writer Charlaine Harris, you usually get what you pay for.

Sue Davies

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