“It didn’t matter, because he was an employee of a criminal enterprise and I was an FBI consultant and, oh yeah, technically kidnapped and probably in the throes of some kind of Stockholm syndrome.”
Daisy Goodnight, Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Cement-Moore
I entered a free giveaway on GoodReads and was lucky enough to win a copy of Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore. When I entered the competition, I didn’t realize that Spirit and Dust was the second book in the Goodnight Family Series. Texas Gothic is the first book. However, it doesn’t actually matter which order the books are read in because they feature different members of the Goodnight family and the storylines are not connected. In Spirit and Dust, the story focuses on Daisy Goodnight. Daisy is a seventeen year old college student who moonlights as an FBI liaison. How can Daisy help the FBI? Well, she can speak to the dead. Daisy is whisked away from a Chemistry class to consult on a homicide in Minnesota. Daisy inspects the scene of the crime and speaks to the murder victim. Daisy finds out that the murder victim was a young girl’s body guard and that she’s been kidnapped. She also realizes that something is seriously wrong with the spirit world. Before Daisy can uncover what’s wrong with the spirit world, she is kidnapped by none other than the young girl’s father named Maguire. Maguire is a crime boss and he’s familiar with the supernatural world, so much so that the forces Daisy into a binding oath that means she’s bound by magic to find Alexis or die trying. Will Daisy find Alexis and find out what’s happened to the spirit world in the process, or will she die trying?
After reading the description on the jacket for this book, I knew I would like the plot because it involved a main character with the ability to communicate with ghosts. I enjoyed reading The Harper Connelly Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, and I was sad when the series ended. In The Harper Connelly Mysteries, although Harper doesn’t communicate with ghosts directly, she does get a flash of a person’s last few moments before death. As Daisy can communicate with ghosts directly, I knew this book would be different, but I hoped it would be as good. I really enjoyed reading this book. I felt that there was just the right mix of supernatural, end-of-the-world-type events, and lighter humorous moments to make for a great read. The spirit world that Clement-Moore created was what really captured my attention. I liked all the little details. For example, the fact that souls leave a remnant (a piece of the soul) behind, perhaps even more than one remnant, each with a different personality and knowledge depending on the part of life the remnant represents. I was worried initially that the remnants might all blend into each other, but each remnant had a really strong and individual character. They were entertaining to read about. I also liked how the reader finds out different aspects of what Daisy is actually capable of right up until the end of the book. It’s the level of detail that kept me curious about Daisy and the world she lives in.
I have to say that aside from the spirit world that Clement-Moore created, Daisy is the main reason that the book works. She has a really strong character voice in that you don’t really need the “said Daisy” labels to know that she’s speaking. She is very sarcastic and snarky which is where a lot of the humor comes from. She also makes some one line references to other popular fiction (e.g., Harry Potter, Star Wars) that are well done in that they don’t feel forced, they just fit in with Daisy’s quirky personality. Clement-Moore also uses a lot of italics in Daisy (and other character’s) speech, which I thought I’d find annoying. I actually found that the italics helped me picture how Daisy would say something and that really brought her character alive. Daisy is also rather kick-ass in that she fights when people are after her and when she’s backed into the corner she finds some clever way to get out of it.
As for the other characters, I thought Carson was well written. There was lots of shade to his character, so I enjoyed trying to figure out whether he was good or bad and how he was connected to a crime boss. He also had a quick wit, so many of the exchanges between Carson and Daisy made me laugh out loud. The relationship between Carson and Daisy brought a good degree of chemistry to the book too. I thought that the physical attraction between Carson and Daisy was well done, and I liked that it wasn’t clear whether they were using that attraction as a means of distraction, or as a means of distraction coupled with the real thing. However, I did think that Daisy made a few to many comments about Carson’s appearance or about something sexy that he’d done, often distracting her from some train of thought, but that was mostly in the beginning and it did fit in with Daisy’s character. She also had an unshakeable belief that Carson was good inside. It would have been nice if Daisy had been a little more doubtful considering how many times he concealed things from her. That uncertainty would have been more believable.
There are two aspects to the mystery in this book. First, finding out who kidnapped Alexis and getting her home safely. Second, finding out what is wrong with the spirit world and fixing it. In the first half of the book, the mystery is well done. Daisy and Carson follow clues that Alexis has left behind which might reveal her kidnapper, and that whoever has kidnapped Alexis is somehow responsible for what is wrong with the spirit world. In the second half of the book, things get a little complicated and less interesting. There’s a lot of Egyptian mythology, a secret brotherhood (aka a cult), and an artifact that could destroy both the spirit world and the world of the living. There’s a clear Indiana Jones vibe as Daisy and Carson break down the riddles/clues that will lead them to the artifact, all the while trying to do it faster than the brotherhood. Things became really strange and over-the-top in the last third of the book. Night at the Museum starring Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones)…ahem…I mean Ben Stiller comes to mind. So much happened in the ending of the book, and most of it unrealistic, that it was difficult to process and left me disappointed after such a great start.
Final Verdict: Overall, an enjoyable paranormal mystery. The paranormal world and characters are interesting and are what make this book enjoyable. The mystery, however, may leave you disappointed in the end.