Published by HarperTeen on September 18th 2012
Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?
Maybe if I hadn't slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin (my high school's reigning mean girl) or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom's new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn't have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.
When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I'm dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can't pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I'm not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess--not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I'll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?
Who knew trying to crack the case of a murdered teen could be so enjoyable? Pleasantly shocking, The Dead Girls Detective Agency was chock-full of laughs and morbid fun. Besides a lack of romantic steam (I’ll get to that later) this book was amazing. Truly one of a kind. The mystery of “who dun’ it” was well thought out and planned which lead to a super suspenseful and exciting read. I had trouble putting this one down!
Dead Girls starts out on a seriously sullen note due to the untimely death of our main character, Charlotte. One minute she’s standing on the train platform getting ready to board, and the next, splat. All Charlotte remembers is a slight shove followed by blinding hot pain. FADE OUT. When Charlotte finally awakens she finds herself in an unfamiliar hotel lobby surrounded by three strange girls: Lorna, Nancy and Tess, the official heads of The Dead Girls Detective Agency. For one reason or another, these three have remained in a sort of limbo, using their afterlife as service to solving teenage murders. It’s explained that all New York City murdered teens wind up in Hotel Attesa, a pit-stop on the way to heaven, or at least whatever “hereafter” that exists. When you reach this point you have two choices. One: stick around as your half-barely-there-self, able to oversee those you left, but never really being able to be with them, or Two: works towards getting your murder case solved and receive the key that lets you move on. Charlotte, opting for the ladder, begins working towards solving her murder with the help of bookworm Nancy, fashionista Lorna, shrew-like Tess and mysterious, Edison.
I really liked this book. With a storyline weighed down by macabre, Cox does a great job of keeping things light and fun. A great deal of the dialogue is humorous and had me laughing out loud. Even though the main characters were murdered, the majority of the story was upbeat. When Charlotte’s mystery murderer was revealed I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely was a “didn’t see that one coming” sort of deal. Cox does a great job of writing a true murder mystery that keeps you guessing by leading you down multiple false paths.
Here’s where I talk about the not-so-great parts of Dead Girls. I like my YAs balanced with all the essentials: including decent steam AND or OR romance. I felt like Dead Girls seriously lacked in this department. Granted, Charlotte had a lot on her plate but still I felt like there were some missed opportunities. In the beginning Charlotte was still reeling from the loss of her living boyfriend, David. Although heartbroken, David seemed to move on pretty quickly… Then there was Edison. We’re led to believe that he has a special connection with Charlotte by way of his slightly less-snarky attitude towards her. It felt like Cox was trying to build something between the two but I never really saw anything emerging. He was very hot and cold with an emphasis on cold. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely liked Edison. He was the more-favorable male character in this book for sure. Basically I just didn’t “feel it” when it came to him or any potential anything with Charlotte.
Regardless! I really liked this book. Fans of lighthearted paranormal reads such as Helen Keeble’s Fang Girl will definitely enjoy this one!