Publish Date: 3 Feb
Reviewed by: E and Marlene
How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Something wicked this way comes…
When her aunt died, level-headed accountant Clare Cermak inherited a fortune—as well as a phantom dog and the power to help ghosts move on. Her new gift led her to Zach Slade, a sexy private investigator with a unique psychic gift of his own, and the man who’s slowly opening her heart. But as they work toward building a future together, a sinister threat emerges.
An evil ghost is ravaging Creede, Colorado, threatening to devour the spirit of an innocent boy. Inexperienced in facing such a powerful ghost—and knowing her spirit, too, could be ripped away—Clare still can’t refuse to help. With Zach’s support she uncovers the ghost’s identity, and the ancestral weapon required to slay it. But does Clare dare to use that weapon before the ghost destroys the man she loves—and her own spirit?
*Blurb from Goodreads
Marlene: So far, I’ve been part of the Book Pushers review team for the first two books in Owens’ Ghost Seer series, and while I always enjoy Owens, I found the second book in the new series better than the first. This is good, it means that the author is on an upswing!
Unfortunately, the third book in the series was more like the first than the second. I like the setup of this series and find all the leads engaging (especially the ghost dog Enzo) but there were a couple of rough spots in this one that made it drag more than a bit in the middle.
E: I have enjoyed doing these joint reviews as well since Owens is one of those authors whose new releases always end up on my shelf. Like Marlene I found this one lacking a bit. I still enjoyed the characters and love Enzo. I thought this story seemed to be divided into two very distinct threads proceeding at the same time instead of two interwoven threads. One thread was the deepening feelings Clare and Zach had for each other and how or if they would decide to act on this feelings. The other was handling the particular ghost issue in and around Creede. This resulted in what appeared to be some uneven pacing peppered with random bits of information about some of the characters which never quite seemed to serve a purpose.
Marlene: Although this is the third book in a series, as the author keeps reminding us, it is less than a month since the incidents in the first book in “world time”. Clare still mourns the loss of her career as an accountant. It was a life that she chose for herself and was contented with. All of the things that have happened since she received her gift have been a mixed blessing. Even when the blessing is totally good, her life is no longer under her control and she sometimes gets hit strongly in the feels with the changes.
She’s doing much better about the “pity poor me” thing she started with, but I’ll admit that a month is not a long time to completely adjust to a change this total. However, because we are now three books in, the reader may very well get the feeling that Clare should have moved on already.
The issue of how much time has elapsed also comes into play with Clare’s basty-assed-nastard of a spirit guide, who she calls “The Other’ because he’s never been courteous enough to give her a name to call him. He enjoys acting superior and reminding Clare how useless she is because she isn’t fully trained, when Mr. Spirit Guide is at least partially responsible for her training. He/It enjoys trapping Clare in the Catch-22 and making her feel inadequate. While Zach does finally find a way to give him what for, Clare should have figured that out a lot sooner. It was still fun watching Mr. I’m So Superior Ectoplasm squirm.
E: I will admit I got tired of the “poor me” coming from Clare and I was glad to see the frequency had decreased. However, she made the decision to proceed as a Seer instead of dying so I wanted her to take more ownership of her life. I understood mourning her lost life but she can’t go back and her refusal to really accept the change increases the danger to her and others around her. I also found myself wondering about the seeming dichotomy between her organized detailed mind as a former accountant and the several impulsive actions she took during this story.
Like Marlene I really enjoyed watching “The Other” get caught in a mess of it’s own making. Throughout the series it has been intimidating and threatening to both Clare and Enzo. Rarely did it actually provide useable information or encouragement even though it had plenty plus a significant amount of power. More and more I wonder if its role is considered punishment or if it has something against Enzo and by extension Clare’s family line. I am curious to see how or if its behavior changes any in the next installment.
Marlene: I have so many mixed feelings about Zach. This is a series where the hero is every bit as troubled as the heroine, and has just as much stuff to go through. It is hard to process sometimes that this is less than a month after Zach and Clare met. Again, there’s that sense that after all they’ve been through, Zach should be getting a little better at this relationship stuff. While Zach definitely has a paranormal talent of his own, dealing with ghosts, especially evil ones, is totally Clare’s gig. Zach doesn’t have the right kind of woo-woo to lay a ghost. (Only Clare, but that’s a different part of the story.) Zach keeps trying to protect Clare by keeping secrets and even trying to strand her without transportation, but the thing he is trying to protect her from is something only she can do. She keeps having to call him on it, and it is getting in the way of moving their relationship forward. Or it will push it back. Annoyingly both.
E: Zach is still so much the protective policeman scarred by his past. He seemed caught between his protective nature and the fears rooted in his past. Once he found out there was the possibility of Clare’s death by ghost he seemed to almost forget everything he and Clare had worked through as he gained her trust initially and started keeping things back again. I sympathized with his fears but once Clare called him on it I was hoping they had addressed the problem. Instead Zach seemed like he was stuck in a rut. He didn’t exactly repeat the same action but he continued to work with the same intent which was counter to what Clare needed to feel she was in a partnership. I think he did realize the potential impact of his actions towards the end but it makes me wonder how they will get beyond his fears and subsequent actions.
Marlene: About the ghost and the conflict that gets Clare and Zach involved, this time was a disappointment compared to the first two books. On the one hand, the author ratcheted up the danger presented by this particular ghost, but on the other hand, part of the charm of Ghost Layer was getting to know the ghost and the Wild West background. While this story used parts of a well-known legend, Robert Ford and Jesse James, we don’t get to know the unknown ghost and their story nearly as well as I would have liked.
Also, the entree into the case was Mrs. Flinton’s great-grandson, eight-year-old Caden. Caden is an absolute sweetie, but his parents and their complete rejection of Caden’s ability to see ghosts and any assistance from Grandma Flinton almost made them evil in the way they went about things. They kept their son in danger rather than let his great-grandmother help him. Especially at the beginning of this story, it felt like there was more wrong with them and the town than turned out to be the case.
And anyone who could sense Enzo and think he was anything other than the sweetest ghost dog in the universe has no heart.
E: I also felt this part fell short. I missed the history lessons and felt disappointed at the small number of actual ghost conversations. As Marlene said while the ghost was certainly a serious threat and obstacle, to me the people of Creede were evil and a bigger threat. It almost seemed as if the ghost business was really a carrier or an excuse to let the darker side of human nature have free reign. I really didn’t view anyone in Creede as innocent except maybe Caden but even with Caden, Owens dropped a hint or two he wasn’t as sweet as he seemed. That being said, no one deserved to be eaten by the ghost. I do hope the mental attitude and behavior of the Creede residents improves but I have my doubts.
Marlene: While I was hoping that Ghost Killer would be even better than Ghost Layer and was a bit disappointed, I still enjoyed the story a lot and continue to have hopes for further entries in this series.
I give Ghost Killer a B.
E: Unfortunately Ghost Killer wasn’t as enthralling as Ghost Layer. I liked seeing developments in how Clare and Zach felt about each other but as I mentioned in the beginning I felt as if the relationship thread and the ghost thread were separated instead of being interwoven. I also thought the ghost thread was actually the weaker of the two. But, Clare did learn a significant amount and I am hopeful she has reached a mental turning point regarding her life as a Seer. I also think she and Zach are at a critical juncture in their relationship. I am looking forward to the next installment because I want to see where Owens is taking this world.
I give Ghost Killer a C+
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