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Dead Connection by Charlie Price

Dead Connection is the debut Young Adult fiction novel from Charlie Price.  In a blurb on the book jacket the author Christ Crutcher calls Dead Connection witty and humorous or maybe he used the word funny.  Witty I agree with but I'm not sure I would use humorous or funny to describe this novel.  Considering its subject matter, it's not particularly serious or dark, but I wouldn't call it funny.  It is well written, well plotted, and always suspenseful--nail-bitingly so in some parts.  Its mystery is twisty and just when you think everything's been figured out, a wrench gets thrown into the works.  There is a subtle supernatural element that is integral to the plot that is done well, too.  The novel tells its story in rotating third person point of view that helps develop the story from multiple perspectives that serves to heighten the thrilling suspense.  Sometimes the device of rotating point of view annoys me because usually just when things really start happening from one point of view is when the action shifts to the next point of view.  However, the short chapters in this novel alleviated this annoyance and helped keep the pace moving at a quick clip.

Murray's in high school and he's an outcast without any friends.  He spends his free time in the cemetery near his home where his only friends, Dearly and Beloved, 'live.'  The quotes are necessary because, well, Murray can talk to the dead and they talk back; they are his only friends.  If he concentrates really hard, he can see them, too, in his mind's eye.  Recently a new voice has emerged from the ether of the cemetery, and although at first all Murray can discern are garbles and static and fragments of words, he can tell the voice is in distress.   Murray is befriended by Pearl, the cemetery caretaker's daughter, who urges him to track down the voice and figure out to whom it belongs.  Thus, both Murray and Pearl stumble upon a local mystery that has the town wound tight due to the stagnating investigation that has failed to yield any answers.

Meanwhile, Officer Gates is determined to lay to rest and resolve the investigation of the disappearance of a local teenage girl no matter where it leads or from whom the leads emerge.  Robert, a recovering paranoid schizophrenic readjusting to society after committal, struggles to recall some important information he wanted to tell someone.  And peace officer Billups, a bitter, nasty man, begins a downward spiral into alcohol addiction that will destroy his life and career and possibly take Murray down with him.

The satisfying ending doesn't wrap everything up too neatly with a bow.  In fact, it may just leave a little too much hanging up in the air for some readers, though the reader will be able to guess where the story is headed after the last sentence.  In the end Murray has what he's never had before: a family and a friend, both of the living variety, who will support him and stand by him no matter how unbelievable his ability seems to be.

I recommend you check out this read the next time you're at the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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