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Embrace the Grim Reaper (Grim Reaper Series) Paperback – August 1, 2010

30 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Grim Reaper Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The intriguing first in a new series from Clemens (Different Paths and four other Stella Crown mysteries) introduces a classic tragic heroine, Casey Maldonado, and her companion, the Grim Reaper. Casey, who's trying to come to terms with personal losses suffered in a fatal car accident, regularly wishes that Death will take her so she can spend eternity with her departed loved ones. Unfortunately for Casey, it's not her time, and Death decides only to tag along on her sad journey. Hitching rides to anywhere, Casey ends up in Clymer, Ohio, a town as deeply troubled as she is. Casey is soon drawn into investigating the death of a young mother, who supposedly committed suicide after losing her job. Clemens is adept at creating an appealing cast of characters while keeping the plot moving at a fast clip. Casey and Death make an oddly entertaining pair, and readers will hope to see their relationship fleshed out in future titles. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Devastated by the deaths of her husband and infant son in a car crash that she alone survived, Casey Maldonado has taken to traveling, accompanied by Death, whom only she can see. She ends up in Clymer, Ohio, a small town devastated by the defection of a manufacturing company. She quickly becomes involved with Home Sweet Home, an organization that feeds struggling families, and she also takes a part in a local theater production. When she learns of the apparent suicide of a local woman, Ellen Schnieder, she begins an investigation, along with Ellen’s boyfriend, to prove that the death was actually murder. Complicating matters, the theater’s director seems to be in some kind of trouble with some unsavory men, and Casey is being pursued by executives from the car company who paid her settlement. An interesting premise (shades, almost, of The Fugitive) and a vulnerable but strong protagonist are the highlights here, though the character of Death adds an unexpected dimension. Clemens, author of the Stella Crown series, could have another winner. --Sue O'Brien --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Grim Reaper Series
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590587200
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590587201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,996,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Judy Clemens has lived in seven states and decided to settle in the beautiful farmland of Ohio. She has been nominated for the Anthony and Agatha awards, and is the immediate past president of Sisters in Crime. She loves chocolate, watching movies, reading fantasy (especially YA and middle-grade) and is an active member of Grace Mennonite Church. She has two children, is married to a soccer coach, and lives in a farmhouse that is constantly being renovated. Learn more about her at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Embrace the Reaper is part of a trilogy of novels (so far at the time of this review, it could even be more in the future) by Judy Clemens. The novel doesn't actually end, you've got to buy The Grim Reaper's Dance to know if the various parties after Casey catch up with her, as literally the last pages of this novel are her fleeing with them all chasing. The only thing missing is a voiceover, will Casey make it, will those after her catch up, tune in next week.... That's the only thing that's wrong with this great story, and all this would have been fine if the fact the story isn't a standalone read was mentioned on the cover. It's a bit unethical after customers have invested financially and emotionally by getting engrossed in the plot to make them buy more books, instead of wrapping up this story then starting the next with the same main character (or characters if you include Death and some towns people).

It is more than worthwhile buying the series though. Casey Maldonado is one of the best written female lead characters I've come across. Death, isn't really essential to the plot, in fact he plays no part in doing anything other than to annoy Casey by his presence and to play tricks on others such as making them feel really cold. Most of the time he's just sitting around eating a leg of chicken or something. He sort of reminded me of The Cat in the Hat. In fact the town of Clymer, Ohio's setting sort of has a Dr Seuss vibe and with Rosemary and Lillian, the two women Casey stays with, resembling the sisters Vivian and Lily from Pushing Daisies, this book has a really surreal and likable vibe going.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The accident left her husband and their son dead; no one can figure out how Casey Maldonado survived with many believing it was divine intervention. Casey knows how because after Pegasus Car Company settled, she fled her family, friends, lawyers, strangers and media whose constant refrain was to demand more. Her traveling companion knows why she lives; Death using human forms when he deems to appear explains to her that "life" should prove much more interesting riding around with someone suffering from survivor guilt.

Casey stops in Clymer, Ohio though is unsure why except Death pushes her there as this town is no different than the others she has recently seen. It is on the verge of collapse as its only industry HomeMaker is leaving for Mexico. Casey follows her nose to the Home Sweet Home soup kitchen where she offers to serve. Usually optimistic Eric Jones nee VanDienbos accepts her offer even as he and most of the townsfolk are depressed, grieving the alleged suicide of his girlfriend Ellen Schneider. No one who knew the single mom believes she killed herself. Casey, encouraged by B&B owners Lillian and Rosemary and guided in an enigmatic way by Death, investigates with clues leading her to HomeMaker where Ellen worked.

EMBRACE THE GRIM REAPER is a fascinating paranormal amateur sleuth tale starring an intriguing lead female struggling with grief and guilt and her more interesting traveling companion Death who surfaces at odd moments in differing persona. The story line is fast-paced from the opening when Death explains why Casey lives and never slows down as she investigates Ellen's death. Although the violent climax comes as a shocker, urban fantasy mystery fans will enjoy Judy Clemens' departure from her Pennsylvania dairy farmer Stella Crown "normal" amateur sleuth series.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darqstar on October 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
Edit to add: I finished the book. My opinion of it didn't change much and it certainly didn't get better. The book ends with several deliberate plot holes, clearly trying to set up the reader so they will buy the next book. The trick isn't working on me.

First, I confess I am only half way through the first book. But I'm just compelled to write this, because it seems that no one had pointed out that Casey is a ginormous Mary Sue. Really, the only more Sue like character I've seen in a professional book is Ayla from The Earth Children series. But Casey is a close second.

She's a martial arts expert who also happens to be a fantastic actress and so wonderful that death just can't let her die, but instead wants to be her unseen traveling companion. (Think "Al" from the TV show "Quantum Leap," remove cigar, substitute junk food and that's all you need to know about Death) She strolls into town, quickly runs to the soup kitchen, because her compassionate meter is down a few notches and this just won't do. Once there she meets up with three stereotypes. The religious fanatic who says, "Praise Jesus!" or something similar with every sentence. EVERY SENTENCE. I live in the bible belt and have met several of type this woman is supposed to portray and even they can say, "Can you get that spoon for me?" without adding a "Praise Jesus" or "God be blessed!" There is also the loveable, wonderful, kid with Down Syndrome who just wants to roll cutlery and give everyone great big hugs! Casey is promptly nicknamed "Pretty Lady," even though it's been implied that she really could use a bit of a wash up.
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