A cop killed in the line of duty lingers as a ghost to help his troubled daughter and to solve a murder case in Anderson’s debut supernatural thriller.
Detective Sergeant John Porter of England’s Rutherford police division awakens soon after saving a young boy from a vehicular accident, but John is already dead from the resultant explosion. His so-called case worker, Danny, is a kind of angel sent to help John “pass on,” but John remains, though he can’t interact with daughter, Mandy, or cop partner, Gavin. Five years later, John’s time is almost up. He’ll literally go insane if he remains in the real world any longer, but he’s determined to help Gavin find Wade Crowley’s murderer, from the now-cold case they caught on the day of John’s death, and to keep Mandy from getting entangled with a family of drug dealers. The novel highlights the supernatural—John looks for ways to communicate with the living, and he’s not the only ghost in town. But Anderson doesn’t concentrate solely on spirits. He delivers an exhilarating thriller with juicy plot points: Mandy, unbeknownst to anyone else, keeps her mentally unstable mother drugged and restrained; Mandy’s friend Slug is from the Burnley clan, notorious drug pushers being monitored by the police; and though Gavin’s superior tells the cop to stay off the Crowley homicide, Gavin obsessively works to catch the killer. The story doesn’t portray the afterlife as a utopian or mystical place, and Danny insists that there’s no heaven or hell, just a beyond. In fact, he claims he’s not even an angel. He emphasizes the point with irreverent T-shirts (“I see dead people”). When Danny meets a new ghost, however, Danny’s wearing robes, wings and a halo, and John rightly assumes it’s pure cynicism. Perhaps even more telling, Anderson doesn’t offer easy answers for his characters’ choices.
An entertaining ghost story with a discerning, perceptive examination of actions and consequences in the here and hereafter.