In C.K.’s debut thriller, aliens save a detective who then continues to work cases—despite the fact that he turns into a ghost every night.
Private investigator Daniel Martinez died in a car wreck, or so he’s told by members of an alien species after he wakes up. They tell him that they could only “half revive” him; he’s alive and still human but only during the day. At sunset, though, he becomes a ghost. After he heads back to his detective agency, he tries to keep his new condition a secret, but his abrasive girlfriend, Vanessa, doesn’t make it easy. Meanwhile, he uses his ghostly state to his advantage, conversing with spirits of murdered people to help solve cases. However, when someone kills Daniel’s mother and makes an attempt on his life, the investigation turns personal—and it may also involve his father, whom he doesn’t even know. This novella is an enjoyable murder mystery—or rather, mysteries, as it features three different cases. (The others involve one client’s missing brother and another’s missing stepson.) As a result, it’s more like a short story collection in which all the tales are seamlessly connected. Daniel reveals outstanding abilities as a ghost; he can move objects telekinetically, for example, which comes in handy when scaring a guilty person into confessing. Vanessa, however, is an irksome character, at least at first: at one point, she quits her job and insists that Daniel hire her simply because she thinks he’s avoiding her. But once she knows his secret, comedy abounds; during their nights together, the invisible Daniel continually moves things around so that she’ll always know where he is. The novella is clearly intended as the start of a series, and as a result, it sometimes gives the impression of a mere prologue. Daniel learns a lot about his father, for example, but he hardly takes the time to deal with his unmistakably mixed feelings before he’s on to the next case. The aliens, too, have no part in the story after they explain to Daniel what they’ve done, although their sudden reappearance at the end is a wonderful tease for the next book.
A delightful mystery even if it seems more like a series introduction than its own distinct story.