BOOK REPORT for The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

Cover Story: Double Take
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: E!
Bonus Factors: Ghost Powers, Mysterious Loner Dude, Mystery, New York City
Relationship Status: Flirtation

Dead Girl's Detective Agency

Cover Story: Double Take

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When I first glanced at this cover, I saw a girl who appeared to be daydreaming while lying on AstroTurf. Her top was cute, but nothing about this picture seemed related to the title. Then I took another look and HOLD THE PHONE, is her body turning gray? Guess that beige and purple top isn't merely a fashion statement. Also, I think I need new contacts.

The Deal:

There were many moments in high school when I thought I would die. Usually from embarrassment, although other causes included pop quizzes, theater auditions and the time I had to ask my crush to prom. But for Charlotte, death just got way less metaphorical. Pushed into the path of a subway car, she wakes up at the Hotel Atessa, a purgatory for teen souls, and finds out that the only way she can leave is to discover the identity of her murderer. Fortunately, she's got some new ghost girlfriends who are eager to help her out. Unfortunately, her investigation forces her to stick around her old haunts (see what I did there?) and witness the world, including her boyfriend, moving on without her.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

BFF Robert Murtagh-2

I found Charlotte to be a very sympathetic character, and if I ever became a ghost, I have a feeling my reactions would mirror her own. She's smart and a little bit snarky, and I would have considered giving her a BFF charm had I not been constantly reminded by pop culture references that girlfriend is a BABY. I can even pinpoint the exact moment when I knew I was too old for this shizz, which would be when I read this line on page 27: "We talked about discovering Hole years before Jennifer's Body came out...."

It was then that I realized that Charlotte was probably born after 1994. Which means she was born after Kurt Cobain died. And I can't be besties with anyone who reminds me that I'm actually an old lady.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I hope I'm not spoiling much by telling you that Charlotte's boyfriend, David, is a complete and utter douchecanoe. I get that she's a teenage girl, and it's easy to fall for the wrong guy at that age, but jeezy creezy, girl, GET A CLUE. And she does, actually! Which leads me to Edison, the MLD (Mysterious Loner Dude), also stuck at the Hotel Atessa. Author Suzy Cox lays it on a little thick (like, we get it it! He's got a piercing gaze!) but compared to David, Edison is like freaking Marcus Flutie.

Talky Talk: E!

Suzy Cox writes in a light, breezy style that goes down easy like a spoonful of sugar. Charlotte's voice is dynamic but not necessarily unique, and the dialogue varies from authentic to cartoonish. The pages are laden with pop culture references, which means this book is about to be, like, so five minutes ago. Cox is the the deputy editor of Cosmopolitan U.K., so her proclivity for cultural name-dropping is understandable, but it really does instantly date the material. There are times when she really nails it, like in this passage, when Charlotte attends her own funeral:

But there's one thing I know: if I'd lived long enough to get famous and some lamebrain had turned to me and asked, "Charlotte Feldman, what song do you want to be played at your funeral?" I know what I would never have said.

'Bring Me to Life' by Evanescence.

And then there are times when Cox just tries way too hard:

What was this? An episode of Gossip Ghoul?

This novel offers a fun, frothy fix, but if you're looking for complexity, you're on the wrong channel.

Bonus Factor: Ghost Powers

Ghost Powers

As we learned from Beetlejuice, ghosts can make people do awesome things, and Charlotte is no exception. She gains some pretty sweet powers, from teleporting to possession, although, in my opinion, she didn't abuse them nearly enough.

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

mysterious loner dude

As I already mentioned, Edison is a classic MLD, as shady as he is sexy. He's even got a tragic past, ladies! He follows the formula to a T, which actually made him more predictable and less attractive as the story progressed.

Bonus Factor: Mystery

mystery

Mystery is still an underutilized genre within YA, so I always enjoy the chance to figure out whodunnit. I wouldn't say that this particular case was intricate, but it was fun to wonder who actually pushed Charlotte in front of that train.

Bonus Factor: New York City

New York City-2

It's so much easier to traipse around NYC when you're a ghost. Hello, no cab fare necessary!

Casting Call:

Lily Sullivan

Lily Sullivan as Charlotte

Evan Peters

Evan Peters as Edison

Relationship Status: Flirtation

This book is super cute, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it charmed me considerably. However, I knew right away that our attraction was as fleeting as the relevancy of its pop culture references, and while it was a fun momentary distraction, there's no way we'll ever get serious.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Constable & Robinson Limited. The Dead Girls Detective Agency is available now.

Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. The founder of Forever Young Adult, Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).