A dead woman betrayed by her younger lover takes gleeful, violent revenge.
“Yes, we are legion. Yes, we are a pain in the ass.” Joanna DeAngelis has died young of cancer, and she has died wrong—instead of connecting one last time with her loving daughters and faithful poodle, instead of departing peacefully with her affairs in order, she has spent her last days on Earth scrolling furiously through her Twitter feed for news of her one-time lover, a Columbia professor who abandoned her in the middle of a cancer relapse for Trudi Mink, celebrity dermatologist and social media queen, a woman whose “nail color was so heavily tweeted it became the Pantone color of the year.” “What the hell,” Joanna exclaims, upon entering the crowded, unpleasant realm of the spirits. “I pictured something out of a Nancy Meyers movie. I follow a light through a meadow, up a slate walk to a many-windowed house with white sofas, and…all the dogs I’ve had to put down greet me and frisk around me.” But instead she joins “the unresolved dead,” those unable to stop wanting what they cannot have, doomed to haunt their old neighborhoods, to orbit rather than rise. Her new mantra: “Make Ned pay.” In this debut novel, Gangi has a blast with her undead harpy character, who dive-bombs her own memorial service, trashes Dr. Trudi’s penthouse, and makes Ned into a social media pariah by running him through an obscene Mick Jagger dance routine in what used to be their favorite bar, where she finds him stepping out on Dr. Trudi with a Columbia undergrad. As Ned comes to fully regret the mistake he can never undo, Joanna’s daughters, one of whom was drunk and cheating herself at the moment of her mother’s death, struggle to find their ways in a motherless world. Or sort of motherless, anyway.
Good fun, good writing, and strong characters keep this high-wire plot aloft.