Dead Connection
by Price, Charlie

A loner who communes with the dead in the town cemetery hears the voice of a murdered cheerleader and tries to convince the adults that he knows what happened to her.

Charlie Price is an executive coach and consultant, an avid reader, a pretty fair free-throw shooter, and a hopelessly addicted fly fisherman. He lives in Redding, California, with his family. This is his first book.

Gr. 9-12. Nikki is dead--and she's angry that her killer has hidden her where she won't be found. Enter Murray, a high-school student who likes to sit in the cemetery and listen to what the dead have to say. In fact, on his own tombstone he would like the words friend to the deceased. So begins this mystery, with a conclusion that's inevitable, but twists and turns that are not. Each brisk chapter is told from the point of view of one of the many characters. Interestingly, most of the main characters are adults: Deputy Gates, who has personal reasons for solving the crime; Robert Barry Compton, an ex-con who witnessed the crime; Janockek, Pearl's understanding father; and Billup, the frustrated public affairs officer. By delving into the adults' problems as they meld with the mystery of Nikki's disappearance, Price has given the book an adult veneer. Readers will like the edginess and be intrigued by the extrasensory elements as well as the darker turns the mystery takes. This is something different. ((Reviewed May 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

A spectral mystery starts strong but ends differently. High-schooler Murray talks to dead people-and they talk back. Usually Murray finds speaking with the dead restful, a vast improvement over spending time with his prostitute mother. Lately, though, there's been a restless spirit disturbing the cemetery's peace, and Murray worries that it may be connected to a schoolmate who went missing a while back. Along with Pearl, the possessive daughter of the cemetery groundskeeper, Murray investigates the unhappy haunt. Intriguing secondary characters have their own puzzles to solve, usually compelling, though occasionally their stories dissolve in to educational lectures about drugs and mental health. The different voices add to the puzzle, as each follows his own path to solving the crime. What readers think they know is often challenged, and no neat resolution exists. Though the story ends in an unusual and slightly awkward fashion, the realistic complexities explored are ripe for discussion. (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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