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Beyond the Grave: A Grim Reaper Mystery    by Judy Clemens order for
Beyond the Grave
by Judy Clemens
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Beyond the Grave by Judy Clemens is a little bit different from the usual mystery fare. Casey Maldonado is traveling in Idaho, haunted by the deaths of her husband and young son. She just can't get her mind around the fact they are gone.

She has a traveling companion. Death!! No one but she can see him. He is, of course, able to see who is next to be fit for a coffin. Casey knows this situation is most unusual but she welcomes the company. Death appears to her in different costumes whatever outfit beguiles him at the time.

Unfortunately, Casey is attacked by three drunken locals. She fights them off and flees to the nearest town to tend to her wounds from the encounter. She finds a job and a room with the proprietor of a small general store. His wife is very ill. Casey learns that the small town has never accepted the couple, who sells them staples.

Casey has her own loss with which to contend. Feels too drained to spend her sympathy on anyone else. However, she catches a teen spray painting the side of the store with an obscenity. Calling the police doesn't endear her to the younger members of the community. When the same young man is caught a second time for the same infraction, Casey just can't ignore the cruelty of the act.

The town's collective feelings for the storekeeper's wife confuse Casey as she and Death do their best to quell the raw feelings surrounding the couple.

It's a very effective change in mystery writing, introducing Death to the readers, considering Death plays a definite part in the plot. I can't say it's a fun mystery to read. But it sure is a good one.

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