I'm pleased to welcome Joyce and Jim Lavene back to the blog. Today we're talking about Dead Girl Blues, the second in their Taxi for the Dead series.
Kathy: In the Taxi for the Dead series we see a wide variety of paranormal characters. In addition to zombies, we also have a ghost and sorcerers. Why the variety?
J&JL: We really wanted to have the idea in the story that if zombies are possible, anything is. We chose Skye as a police officer to be one of the least likely people to believe this could happen and gave her an ‘I’ve seen everything’ attitude for this reason. We’re all so sure about the world we think we live it. But what if that world is turned upside down?
Kathy: Zombies seem to be quite popular nowadays. Why do you think that is?
J&JL: Probably the out of control fear many people feel today with world crisis after world crisis. I think many people really believe the end of the world is coming – why not zombies?
Kathy If you were on your deathbed and approached by Abe (or someone similar) would you take his deal and work with him in order to live another 25 years?
J&JL: I honestly don’t know. Skye has a powerful motivation. My kids are grown. That being said, most people would cheat death if they could, I think.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for this series?
J&JL: When we were kids, we read all kinds of crazy stories about zombies, ghouls, and ghosts. But they weren’t brain eating zombies. They were people who crossed the wrong person or took the wrong turn. We wanted to get away from the brain-eating and back to the idea that people could be granted extended lives with magic.
Kathy: This series is a little darker and a little grittier than your other series. Was there a reason to write a not so cozy cozy?
J&JL: The characters come to you and you find a vehicle for them. I can’t imagine Skye being different than she is – gritty and a little sad. But she has a story to tell and we’ve enjoyed telling it. We never set out to write cozy mysteries, they kind of came to us. Sometimes other stories come too.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Skye?
J&JL: Skye meets her father in Dead Girl Blues. She believed she was an orphan so this is a new shock for her. In the next book, she’ll meet her mother and learn the secrets to why they abandoned her and who she is.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
J&JL: Gladly! We have a new Peggy Lee Garden Mystery, Killing Weeds, coming out in May. It’s the tenth anniversary of that series. We also have a new Missing Pieces book out in June, A Watery Death – and book 8 in the Ren Faire Mysteries in July – Fatal Fairies! Thanks for asking.
Dead Girl Blues
by Joyce and Jim Lavene
The Second Taxi for the Dead Mystery
Three years in to her contract with Abe, the Zombie Master, things
aren't going well for Skye Mertz in this second Taxi for the Dead
Mystery. Abe's sorcerer has been killed and someone is somehow turning
zombies into ghosts and making them disappear. In addition, Debbie's
husband's "condition" is getting worse and Skye discovers other
"accidents" are occurring just as the one that killed her husband and
almost killed her. Lucas has been helping her, but could he really be an
evil sorcerer instead of a helpful housemate? Remaining alive for her
daughter's sake is much more difficult that she thought!
Dead Girl Blues is a book of discoveries. When the body of Harold the Great, Abe's sorcerer, is discovered Skye is called in to investigate his murder. That task leads Skye to Harold's replacement, Artemis. What she discovers then is death changing. The discovery of not only what Artemis is doing, but who he really is, leads to a revelation about who she really is. Skye also discovers more about the death of her husband and the truth of her feelings towards Lucas.
While the Taxi for the Dead series fits the definition of a cozy mystery (amateur sleuth, no graphic sex or violence) I don't consider it a true cozy. I called the first in the series a "not so cozy cozy" and that remains true in Dead Girl Blues. A cozy mystery has a cozy vibe; its location and atmosphere make it a comforting place where you want to spend time, despite the abundance of murders. While I'd like to visit this part of Tennessee via the books, it certainly isn't warm and inviting. That's not to say Dead Girl Blues and the Taxi for the Dead series is all dark, dangerous, and gritty. There's plenty of humour too. I still giggle as I picture Lucas running from the hedge clippers!
While I don't consider Dead Girl Blues a cozy, I believe that cozy readers will appreciate its family values and the universal truths found within. It's a unique series with unconventional characters that tells a great story. I read and enjoy all types of books and I certainly enjoyed this one. I look forward to discovering more about the characters along with what happens next.
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