Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin Series #1)

Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin Series #1)

4.1 71
by Casey Daniels
     
 

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She sees dead people

Beautiful, smart, and chic, Pepper Martin never had to work a day in her life — until her surgeon daddy was convicted of fraud, her wealthy fiancé took a powder, and the family fortune ran bone dry.

Suddenly desperate, the inexperienced ex-rich girl was forced to take the only job she could get:

Overview

She sees dead people

Beautiful, smart, and chic, Pepper Martin never had to work a day in her life — until her surgeon daddy was convicted of fraud, her wealthy fiancé took a powder, and the family fortune ran bone dry.

Suddenly desperate, the inexperienced ex-rich girl was forced to take the only job she could get: as a tour guide in a cemetery. But a grave situation took a turn for the worse when a head-on collision with a headstone left her with an unwanted ability to communicate with the disgruntled deceased . . . and now Pepper has a whacked Mafia don demanding that she hunt down his killers — and threatening to haunt her until she does.

Editorial Reviews

Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"Daniels cleverly sets up a fun new series...a tightly plotted story with a likable amateur sleuth."
Argus Leader (Sioux Falls))
"Daniel’s first offering is a fast, fun read, perfect for the beach and ripe for a follow-up."
Roberta Isleib
“A delightful read!”
Kerrelyn Sparks
“A spooky mystery, a spunky heroine, and sparkling wit! Give us more!”
Emilie Richards
“There’s not a ghost of a chance you’ll be able to put this book down. Write faster, Casey Daniels.”
Linda O. Johnstone
“[A] charming, imaginative mystery that transcends the boundaries of time, death and predictability, peppered with some delightful romantic twists.
Laura Bradley
“Carrie of Sex in the City going Six Feet Under with The Sopranos. Hip, original, out-of-this world fun!”
MaryJanice Davidson
“[F]abulous! One of the funniest books I’ve read this year. Or last year, come to think of it.”
Shirley Damsgaard
“The fast paced dialogue and plenty of twists keep the reader turning the pages…I can’t wait to read more!”
Argus Leader (Sioux Falls)
"Daniel’s first offering is a fast, fun read, perfect for the beach and ripe for a follow-up."
Washington Times
“Clever, intelligent and well written.”
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“Daniels cleverly sets up a fun new series...a tightly plotted story with a likable amateur sleuth.”
Argus Leader (Sioux Falls
“Daniel’s first offering is a fast, fun read, perfect for the beach and ripe for a follow-up.”
Publishers Weekly
Combining elements of a cozy mystery and a paranormal romance, this debut aims for fresh and sassy; while it delivers fare both conventional and canned, it's redeemed in the end. The book's big flaw is its unappealing protagonist, Pepper Martin, a cemetery tour guide in Cleveland who thinks her best asset is her big chest. She wields the power of the twins often while investigating the death of former mob boss Gus Scarpetti-at the behest of the wise guy himself. Ever since Pepper hit her head on Gus's mausoleum, she's been able to see and talk to his ghost. Pepper would rather nab a job in Saks's shoe department and a handsome man with deep pockets than turn amateur sleuth. But in the absence of Prince Charming, she settles for investigating Gus's 30-year-old murder and lusting after a gorgeous cop and an enigmatic brain doctor. Without an engaging voice, the first third of the book drags; when it heats up, though, the carefully woven mystery helps compensate for what Pepper lacks, as does the well-defined and likable Gus. Indeed, despite some plot holes and flimsy characterizations, Daniels pulls the mystery together in the end, showing promise for a better book two. (May 30) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060821463
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/30/2006
Series:
Pepper Martin Series, #1
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
598,863
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.84(d)

Read an Excerpt

Don of the Dead

A Pepper Martin Mystery
By Casey Daniels

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Casey Daniels
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060821469

Chapter One

I have to admit, the first time Gus Scarpetti spoke to me, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention.

After all, the guy had been dead for thirty years. How much could he possibly have to say?

"Hey, doll baby!" He called out from the back of the crowd that was gathered around me, and though I'm usually pretty quick on my feet, I was so freaked when I saw him that I was speechless.

I glanced over my shoulder at the black marble mausoleum that contained the worldly remains of Gus Scarpetti. I looked back toward where this Gus Scarpetti wound his way in and out of the clumps of tourists waiting for me to begin the day's talk: "Cleveland's Famous Dead."

Dead being the operative word.

I reminded myself of that fact while I watched Scarpetti sidestep between two blue-haired ladies. "Doll baby. Hey!" He gave me the once-over. Like I'd been hearing since I was thirteen, I was too tall for a girl. Five eleven. Just about the same height as this guy. I also happened to have a size 38C bust. Guys always noticed. Even guys who were pretending to be dead guys.

Scarpetti stared at my chest for a while and he smiled when he looked me in the eye. "You got no manners? I'm talking to you. Theleast you could do is say hello."

"Hello." I answered automatically. I was still trying to figure out who concocted a joke this lame. Whoever it was, I had to give him (or her) credit. Where they found a Gus Scarpetti who looked exactly like the Gus Scarpetti I had seen in the pictures in the cemetery's research archives was a mystery to me.

The guy was shaped like a bull, compact and big-boned, with a nose that sat on his face at an angle, a souvenir of his early years working as mob muscle. He had a football player's neck, as beefy as a porterhouse. Like the photos I'd seen, this Gus Scarpetti was dressed in a perfectly tailored dark suit, a fat tie, and a diamond ring on the pinky finger of his left hand. A white handkerchief peeked out of his breast pocket.

It was probably what he'd been buried in.

The thought sent a shiver up my spine, and I shook it away. Good thing. My too-curly carrot-colored hair was wound into a braid and it twitched against the back of my white polo shirt, snapping me back to reality.

It had taken me a solid week to get the script for this tour down pat. Now this guy shows up and throws me off my game? He deserved to be put on the spot. I made a sweeping gesture toward our guest. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you all to meet Mr. Augustino Scarpetti."

You'd think it would have had a little more effect on the crowd. A little more than none, anyway.

Two dozen pairs of eyes stared at me. As empty as my checkbook. Two dozen people whose sticky tags said their names were things like Gladys and Rose and Henry, waited for me to say more.

No one at Garden View Cemetery had ever bothered to tell me how to handle a cemetery-tour heckler. I knew I had to punt.

"Mr. Augustino Scarpetti is buried here." I pointed toward the mausoleum with its Egyptian columns at the front corners and a door that had been imported all the way from Italy. It was brass with a glass insert, and according to what I'd been told by the folks who knew about these things, the door cost more than I paid in rent for an entire year. I guess that was only right since the mausoleum was bigger than my apartment.

Pretty classy digs for someone who was too dead to appreciate it.

From the other side of the door, I could see the glow of the stained-glass window at the far end of the mausoleum, the oriental rug that covered the marble floor, and the dozen red roses that were delivered every week like clockwork. Always on Thursday, the day Gus Scarpetti had been gunned down.

When I turned back around, I half expected that the Gus clone would be gone. But he was still there, looking as interested in what I had to say as everyone else in the group. Which was pretty much the reminder I needed to get my head back into the game.

"I'll bet most of you have heard stories about Gus," I said, and everybody but Gus nodded enthusiastically. "His mob nickname was the Pope, and he was the head of one of the largest crime families in -- "

"One of the largest?" Scarpetti looked me over like I was a salami hanging in a deli window. His eyes glinted. Just like the diamonds in his ring. "What idiot told you to say that? One of the largest? That's what they get for letting a girl talk about something as important as this. The Scarpetti Family was the largest. The largest family. Go ahead, you tell them that."

"I don't have to. You just did."

"Did what?" The question came from a woman named Betty in the front row. I looked her way.

"What he said," I told her.

Betty turned toward where I pointed. "He who?"

"He. Him." For a second, I wondered how the practical joker (whoever he -- or she -- was) had convinced the Heights Lutheran Senior Citizens League to go along with the gag. Just as quickly, I decided there was no way. They couldn't be bullshitting me. Not all of them. Not Lutherans.

"Gus Scarpetti. The mobster." This time I didn't just point, I stabbed, the gesture broad enough so that even Chester, the guy with the thick glasses who stood at Betty's side, could see it. "Gus Scarpetti is -- "

My stomach hit bottom, then bounced up again and lodged in my throat.

Because that's when I realized that nobody else saw the guy.

Continues...


Excerpted from Don of the Dead by Casey Daniels Copyright © 2006 by Casey Daniels. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Linda O. Johnstone
“[A] charming, imaginative mystery that transcends the boundaries of time, death and predictability, peppered with some delightful romantic twists.
Kerrelyn Sparks
“A spooky mystery, a spunky heroine, and sparkling wit! Give us more!”
Emilie Richards
“There’s not a ghost of a chance you’ll be able to put this book down. Write faster, Casey Daniels.”
MaryJanice Davidson
“[F]abulous! One of the funniest books I’ve read this year. Or last year, come to think of it.”
Laura Bradley
“Carrie of Sex in the City going Six Feet Under with The Sopranos. Hip, original, out-of-this world fun!”
Shirley Damsgaard
“The fast paced dialogue and plenty of twists keep the reader turning the pages…I can’t wait to read more!”
Roberta Isleib
“A delightful read!”

Meet the Author

Casey Daniels once applied for a job as a tour guide in a cemetery. She didn't get the job, but she did get the idea for the Pepper Martin mystery series. Casey learned to love mysteries early thanks to her father, a Cleveland Police detective who enjoyed Sherlock Holmes stories and spent his days off searching for stolen cars—with Casey along for the ride. Later, she read her way through every mystery on the library shelves. Casey has a degree in English and a background in journalism and teaching. She is the author of two previous Pepper Martin mysteries, Don of the Dead and The Chick and the Dead, and lives in Northeast Ohio.

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Don of the Dead 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
KayleeLS More than 1 year ago
Whenever I find a new author whose books I want to read, I always pick the first book in the series. Which was the reason for picking "Don Of The Dead", the first in the Pepper Martin series. I was impressed. This is a fun book to read. I really like the main character, Pepper Martin. She's smart, witty but a bit clumsy, which is how she ends up with The Don, Gus Scarpetti. Pepper sees dead people and Gus is a murdered Mafia Don who wants her help. Gus makes the story, he adds the mystery and the reason for Pepper's motivation in solving his murder. I love some of the twists that were added, especially to Pepper's love life. I enjoyed this book so much, that I plan to purchase the rest of the series. This is the perfect book for a summer read or for snowy days, or just for fun.
starcrazy More than 1 year ago
So far, l've read the first two books in this series. While I find Pepper to be funny and the plots to be interesting, I'm reluctant to get the next book, as I find that Pepper's character isn't progressing much. I'm not a fan of characters that are almost totally self-centered. They're entertaining for a couple of books, but then they become so predictable that I begin to lose interest. I like characters that learn from what happens to them, not ones who constantly whine about how unfair life is and act like they don't have a clue about the world around them; which to me, at least, pretty much sums up Pepper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first started the book, I wasn't sure it was for me, I even considered returning the next two books in the series, but I hung in there and it was worth it. Loved Casey Daniels sarcasm and humor and the fact the Pepper acknowledged all of her kookie issues, but kept on keeping on. The last third of the book really held my attention and now I can't wait to read more about Quinn and The Brain Man...especially the Brain Man...no wait, Quinn...no wait...anyway, I plan to crack open the next book this evening. Other review writers, PLEASE, don't tell actual story details, especially not the ending. It ruins it for those still deciding whether or not to read the book.
StephanieD More than 1 year ago
"Don of the Dead" is the first book in a series by Casey Daniels. It's in first person, and it's hilarious. Pepper Martin is the only tour guide at the Garden View cemetary. It is her job to inform tourists all about the "residents" at Garden View. One of the most famous being Gus Scarpetti, a mobster who was gunned down 30 years ago. Pepper hit her head against his mausoleum a week or two ago and now she can see him! And he has a favor to ask. His murder was never solved and now he wants Pepper to solve the mystery. The whole book is funny and light. There's a lot of mob speak and Gus, despite being a mobster, is a real gentelman and you'll become attached to him! This is a great book and I can't wait to get to the rest of the series!
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Good idea for a book. I think Casey and Charlaine Harris should get together and introduce there Pepper and Harper Connelly to each other and see what they can come up with.
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I enjoyed the quirkiness. It was a fun read!
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avid-readerCA More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book and will read the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
warbi More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in a series about a cemetary tour guide. She trips and hits her head on a tombstone and this causes her to be able to see and communicate with the dead. They always want her to help them out in one way or another. This debut novel is witty at times, especially the title, and is my favorite of the series (I sill have two more books to go).
Silentlyjealous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think i would enjoy reading this when i first started it. But it picks up rather nicely. Its not nice to know who done it until the end.
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A fun read.
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