Dead Is Beautiful by Jo Perry #BookReview #BlogTour

DEAD IS BEAUTIFUL finds Rose leading Charlie from the peace of the afterlife to the place he hates most on earth, “Beverly Fucking Hills,” where a mature, protected tree harboring a protected bird is being illegally cut down.

The tree-assault leads Charlie and Rose to a to murder and to the person Charlie loathes most in life and in death, the sibling he refers to only as “his shit brother,” who is in danger. 

Charlie fights-across the borders of life and death–for the man who never fought for him, and with the help of a fearless Scotsman, a beautiful witch, and a pissed-off owl, Charlie must stop a cruel and exploitative scheme and protect his beloved Rose. 

It's my pleasure to be closing the blog tour for Dead Is Beautiful by Jo Perry today, alongside Kelly at From Belgium With Book Love. Many thanks to the author, Fahrenheit Press and Emma Welton from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novel.

There are many rules when it comes to writing but the most universally recognised is probably 'Don't kill the dog'. Jo Perry proves she cares nothing for rules because to misquote Dickens, Rose is dead to begin with. So, for that matter is Charlie, her human companion. This is the fourth book in the Charlie and Rose series but each can be read as a standalone. The pair first linked up in Dead is Better following Charlie's premature demise after he was shot and Rose was left to starve to death. The manner in which a body enters the afterlife determines their post-death appearance, so Charlie is still riddled with the bullet holes which killed him and Rose is beautiful (obviously -  she's a dog) but painfully emaciated.

 There are numerous stories about the spirit world of course, and those of us of a certain age will recall the ghost detective in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) but in this series, everything you thought you knew about the afterlife is probably wrong. Charlie and Rose aren't able to make their presence known to the living and actually can't interact with them at all. This causes Rose to become frantically distressed when she leads Charlie to a tree which is being cut down. It turns out that the tree had a preservation order on it and housed a rare Spotted Owl and its owlet. Fortunately, the owls have another saviour in house-sitter and doula, Eleanor Starfeather. When Charlie sees Eleanor, he is smitten at first sight, which isn't surprising as she's naked at the time but before long he has more on his mind after he ends up bearing witness to a horrific murder and suspects that his brother, Mark is in danger.

Actually, Mark faces more than one adversary including an unhinged owl who really bears a grudge against him. Now, all owls are brilliant, just by being owls but this one is singularly memorable - albeit also terrifying. It should probably be clear by this point in my review that this is a series which doesn't take itself too seriously. The front cover and the presence of a ghost dog might suggest cosy crime but this is far removed from that genre - it's irreverent, blunt and positively dripping with black humour. It's also a hugely engaging and original read, with Charlie's first-person perspective used to great effect as he is able to perform the role of the omnipotent observer without being given the ability to directly manipulate proceedings. Rose is clearly the brains of the partnership and it is she who is able to sniff out trouble (metaphorically, of course, her sense of smell died when she did) but she needs Charlie to protect her when a particularly unpleasant newcomer to the spirit world takes an interest in her.

The short chapters mean this feels like a quick book to read but as I write this review, I'm reminded of how much actually happens here; seeing Mark's life spiral spectacularly out of control; corrupt deals and a deeply unpleasant businessman; a determined white witch; a no-nonsense, indomitable Scotsman, and a vengeful and demanding new ghost. It's dark, funny and - especially in a scene towards the end - grotesquely beautiful and really rather moving. Dead is Beautiful is a truly enjoyable book which dares to make crime fiction fun without losing any of its emotional impact. It succeeds marvellously and is a real breath of fresh air. I've read two books in the series now and it shouldn't come as any surprise to learn I'm looking forward to reading the rest soon.

Dead is Beautiful is published by Fahrenheit Books and can be purchased directly from the website, Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't miss the previous stops on the blog tour, details are below.

As an extra bonus today, I thought I'd include a mini-review of Dead is Better, the first book in the series and my introduction to Charlie and Rose.

Charles Stone has just woken up dead. Well he’s pretty sure he’s dead, what with the bullet holes in his chest and all. He also appears to be totally alone in the after-life except for the ghostly dog who seems to be his new companion.
Unable to interact with the world of the living other than watching and listening, he and the dead dog (whom he names Rose) have nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it. 
When Charles and Rose try to unravel the circumstances of Charles's death, they uncover a criminal who is raking in millions of dollars by cruelly exploiting, and sometimes killing, his victims. 
But what difference can a ghost make?  
And what does the damn dog have to do with any of this?

When somebody unexpectedly wakes up dead, it's understandable that they will want to know how they died. Charles  - Charlie - Stone was murdered and his post-death appearance is a constant reminder of that fact,
'Bullet holes still interrupt my flesh. My sternum is cracked, my chest bruised black and purple from their efforts.
One thing about this place - it's come as you were.'
He has to adjust to his death but also wants to find out who killed him and why. Fortunately, he has gained a companion in the afterlife, an emaciated dog he names Rose. If the circumstances of Charlie's murder are a mystery, the cause of Rose's death is much more upsetting and despite this being a humorous book, there is real anger here at the cruel neglect of animals who do nothing wrong except trust worthless humans.
Charlie lived a privileged lifestyle although he was obviously the less-favoured second son and a result has a jaded, cynical perspective on proceedings. He comes across as a bit of a misandrist but as the novel progresses, I couldn't help but warm to him, particularly when there are clear signs that despite his cantankerous manner, he actually has a more generous, compassionate side to him too.
This sharply witty and clever book has an intriguing plot which despite the many laughs, never shies away from exposing the shocking, darker side of life and the way in which the most vulnerable in society are exploited by those with power.
I loved Rose, of course, despite her horrendous life, she is wise and trusting and thanks to Charlie, regains her doggy sense of humour. I liked Charlie too and Jo Perry's insightful, empathetic writing ensured there were times when I really felt for him, especially when he discovers the truth about his death. Dead is Better is an excellent start to this series and did what all first books should do - left me wanting more!

The Charlie and Rose books can all be found on the Fahrenheit Press website.

About the Author

Photo credit of Sam Dobbins, Access One Photography

Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing,  produced and wrote episodic television, and published articles,  book reviews, and poetry. 
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry.    They have two adult children. Their two dogs are rescues. 
Jo is the author of DEAD IS BETTER, DEAD IS BEST, DEAD IS GOOD, and DEAD IS BEAUTIFUL, a dark, comic mystery series from Fahrenheit Press.
Twitter  Facebook  Instagram  Website


Post a Comment