Publication Date: October 28, 2016
The author, Calvin Dean, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Martin Gallagher is the male Agatha Raisin. He’s reached a certain age and a certain level of success and is ready to look for a little love. He hasn’t had much success in his previous romantic endeavors but has set his sights on a certain lady and wants to pursue whatever might develop between them. Throwing a wrench in Martin’s plan is the gaggle of ghosts he encounters including one off-beat entity for whom love and death are a very thin line and it’s impossible to predict which side of the line she’ll land on moment to moment.
Styled in three parts, Curses is a well-crafted comedic mystery. Martin is new to the paranormal world and guessing as to what the logical moves in ridding one’s self of ghosts might be. We meet our hero after the fact, and he’s not a natural believer in the supernatural. He sees a young boy in period costume tossing a ball up in the air in his backyard, and his assumption is that this is one of the neighborhood children. While it’s odd that he’d be in the backyard, there’s no alarm. He drops little hints to the reader that the worst is yet to come, Martin’s overall likability, affability and logical approach to what he faces makes it a lot of fun to have a beer and hear his story.
Dean is a talented writer able to bring his readers into the moment. He is infatuated with his neighbor, Hannah. She’s 12 years younger, but Martin perceives himself as ready for his second chance and Hannah as important to its success. When Agnes enters the picture, he is the guy who is flattered but understands the complexities of a dead admirer … especially when she only loves him half the time.
Curses could have been an incredibly dark read, but Dean’s approach is light and entertaining. There is a sense of true danger, but the attitudes and approach to it let readers know that even the low points have humor and can serve as a valuable tool in teaching us how to react. Dean’s writing style is lyrical in a way that falsely reads as effortless. There is a craft involved in the story seen in the works of authors like Toni Morrison and John Updike. We meet both living and dead characters and they are all well crafted and in their place in the work with reason.
I loved Curses. It was fun and substantial. The third part goes a little off the rails, but the ultimate feel is of a great read. If you have a chunk of time to relax on the weekend, pick Curses up today.
Read our review of Calvin Dean’s A Door Unlocked.
Read an excerpt and buy Curses by Calvin Dean on