Book Critique - The Death Dealer (Harrison Investigation # 7)

For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A neat blend of history and paranormal folded with romance and murder is what we see with this plot

The Death Dealer is the seventh book in the Harrison Investigation Series by the paranormal author Heather Graham published in March of 2008. The plot forms a sequel to the previous book Dead Room with the story centering on Joseph "Joe" Connolly - Ex-cop turned PI - and Genevieve "Gen" O'Brien - rich socialite who is also a social worker and who was saved by Joe and Leslie in the previous plot. The plot is set a year after the events of The Dead Room.

Long before her Krewe of Hunters series (My review of the books I have read in that series so far are here), she had her Harrison Investigation Series headed by Adam Harrison. She credits him for starting the FBI special division called the Krewe of Hunters. While I was reading those books I was curious to read about Adam Harrison and books that came under his series. And so the book reviews continue in this series.

At the end of the previous book, The Dead Room, Heather had left the lead character Joe Connolly's love life in a limbo. I so much wanted him to have that plot end with Joe pairing up with the lead female character Leslie MacIntyre. But Leslie's true love was Matt Connolly, Joe's cousin, and in the end joins him in the other world. In the end of that plot, Joe is seen walking away from Matt and Leslie's graves with Genevieve O'Brien, the rich socialite he and Leslie had saved from the clutches of a psychopath.

I had wondered if Heather would write a plot for Joe Connolly because it felt too incomplete for his character to be left like that. So it was a pleasant surprise for me when I picked up the next book in the series. Yes sir indeed, it is centrally focused on Joe Connolly and Genevieve O'Brien.

They are teamed together in this plot to find out who killed Thorne Bigelow - one of the Ravens, a New York Poe Society.  Gen hires Joe to investigate the death as she was worried about her mother, Eileen O'Brien, who might be a target too. Gen feels strong attraction towards Joe, not just because he had saved her a year ago from a monster. But she fears he is still in love with Leslie, a ghost. 

As a sequel one would expect the story and characters from the previous plot flow through. As expected we see a lot of Matt Connolly and Leslie MacIntyre too. And your guess is right - they are ghosts now. And Joe Connolly sees them too. To keep the plots continuous, the members from Harrison Investigations are the same as those in previous plot, except with one more addition - Adam Harrison, Nikki Blackhawk and Brent Blackhawk whom we first met in the third book in the series Ghost Walk.

As the plot proceeds we get historical paranormal stories and facts of various area in Manhattan, NY including the areas where Edgar Allan Poe had resided while he was in New York, Richmond and Balrimore. And some cool hangout spots are listed, that I definitely want to visit when I am back in NYC again.

Gen O'Brien is a strong female character and a total complement to Joe Connolly. But what bugged about her was the way she was manipulating Joe into making him do what she wants. I mean, I get it that she wants him to investigate the case even though no one else see what she is thinks is a serial killer. I also get that she wants to prove that she is strong again, not a fragile doll. But, if she wants Joe to do what she wants, they why doesn’t she do what Joe asks her to do either? Why does she go off on her own and fall into danger? 

In fact, I see this happening with most of the lead female characters of Heather Graham. They want their male counterparts to do what they want, stand by them. But then when the male lead asks them to do something, as simple as staying inside safe, they go off on their own to find the truth. I agree that it proves that the female leads are also as strong as the male. But it makes me feel that Heather shows them as not trusting their male leads as much as they should. Oh well, it's just my opinion. 

In any case, two damaged souls are brought together under the shadows of murder, mystery and ghosts. And they do love each other so what's to complain.

Heather does have a slew of characters supporting the plot again. With so many characters, there would be repeat paraphrasing of having to explain a particular scene to the remaining characters. However, it was lesser compared to some of her other books I read. She tied up all the inconsequential details in neatly towards the end of the plot as usual.

On a side note, in the copy of the book that I have, hard card inserts that gives reader an opportunity to either join a book club and win books, or buy a book and get a few free, are torn by someone who owned this book prior to me. Finally I found a book where someone used those cards for real. 

Another intriguing paranormal plot heavily doused on history filled with murder, mystery, romance and ghosts. A tale that captured one easily till the end.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Joe Connolly watches the 1963 horror film The Raven based on the references to Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven. According to Joe, the movie turned the poem into a silly battle between magicians. I havent watched it, but it is intriguing enough to want me to watch.

b. Several references to Edgar Allan Poe's works is mentioned in the book - The Raven (Joe quotes from the poem, and the society of Ravens the plot is centered on); The Black Cat (A short story); The Cask of Amontillado (A short story); The Mystery of Marie Roget (A short story based on true crime, Heather also includes the details of the original crime the story was based on); The Murders in the Rue Morgue (A short story); Annabel Lee (last complete poem); The Masque of the Red Death (A short story); MS. Found in a Bottle (A short story); The Tell-Tale Heart (A short story)

c. Another author that I follow the books she writes is Ellen Byerrum. Her latest book in the Crime of Fashion Series is titled The Masque of the Red Dress. It is so close to The Masque of Red Death title of Poe's story. I havent read Ellen's book yet. But I am curious to see if she has any parallels in the plot as well.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Another one of Adam Harrison's team is introduced in conversations - John, in the first book Haunted. Will he become a main character in a future book is something we have to wait and see. 

b. In Haunted, Adam Harrison mentions that the case in London is complex and would be solved another time, hence he has come to Stoneyville to aid Darcy Tremayne. I wonder if Heather Graham would make this little tidbit into a plot for a future book in this series or the Krewe of Hunters series.

c. In Haunted, Randy Newton, an FBI agent and friend of Matt's, is introduced in the plot as a contact and friend of Matt from a serial killer case that they had worked together on the outskirts of D.C. I wonder if he was a main character in a previous book that of Heather Graham's that I hadnt read yet.

d. In The Vision, Heather Graham has one of her characters, Jack, mention about a guy killing prostitutes around Eighth Street in Miami. I don’t remember any of Heather Graham's so far read plots that has this certain plot. Perhaps it is from one of the books I didn’t read or maybe it was just an off-hand instead mentioned for the sake of the plot.

e. In the Dead Room, Brent Blackhawk is shown to be out in Los Angeles on a case. Adam Harrison is scheduled to head to London from Manhattan the following day for a case. I wonder if Heather's next plot would be in Los Angeles or London. 

3. Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. On Pg. 10, it is seen that Joe Connolly after making a call drops his phone and then heads out to help the accident victims. On Pg. 16, after helping the victims, Joe doesn’t go back to his car but takes a cab back to his home. But on Pg. 23, when Gen calls him, he picks up his cell. Where did he get his car and pick the cell again, I didn’t get it.

b. On Pg. 34, Line 20, it should be "I saw a car…"

c. On Pg. 156, Line 3 from bottom, it should be "…read from "Annabel Lee." Then Don…"

d. On Pg. 321, Line 13, it should be "…lived there with his aunt…"


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