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Dead Connection Hardcover – May 2, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-Teenage loner Murray Kiefer has found comfort and companionship by visiting with the dead in his local cemetery. Schoolmate Pearl is more outgoing and confident; she lives with her widowed father, the caretaker of the cemetery. A third teen, cheerleader Nikki Parker, has disappeared, and everyone speculates about whether she'll be found alive. Price weaves the stories of these characters-and those of a drunken cop, a trusting and loyal father, and a jaded but smart detective-into a murder mystery with compelling psychological and spiritual overtones. Neither Pearl nor Murray is interested in befriending the other but eventually a relationship develops. How long it will take the good cop to catch up with the bad one-and just how bad the latter might be-keeps the tension high. The cemetery setting and Murray's sensitivity to the dead aren't ghoulish, nor are these details played for laughs. At the same time, the teen's social awkwardness elicits sympathy in readers. He is simply who he is and is able to know just a little something about which others seem less aware, while being in the dark about things that his peers take for granted. Pearl is strong and eventually admirable as she gains respect for Murray. The degradation of the drunken cop adds a gritty edge to a story where most (but not all) of the violence takes place offstage. This will be an easy sell to mystery readers, and will have lots of appeal to those familiar with that genre only through television or movies.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 9--12. Nikki is dead----and she's angry that her killer has hidden her where she won't be found. Enter Murray, a high-school student who likes to sit in the cemetery and listen to what the dead have to say. In fact, on his own tombstone he would like the words friend to the deceased. So begins this mystery, with a conclusion that's inevitable, but twists and turns that are not. Each brisk chapter is told from the point of view of one of the many characters. Interestingly, most of the main characters are adults: Deputy Gates, who has personal reasons for solving the crime; Robert Barry Compton, an ex-con who witnessed the crime; Janockek, Pearl's understanding father; and Billup, the frustrated public affairs officer. By delving into the adults' problems as they meld with the mystery of Nikki's disappearance, Price has given the book an adult veneer. Readers will like the edginess and be intrigued by the extrasensory elements as well as the darker turns the mystery takes. This is something different. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I bought another copy of Dead Connection and devoured it on an airline flight. It's a gripping tale, broken up into short chapters, each with its own title, which works well with Charlie's literary equivalent of an ensemble cast of six characters. The nominally main character, Murray, is an awkward kid who seemingly has no friends save for those he finds at the local cemetery--under the ground. Murray is a medium of sorts, albeit one with serious constraints that work against him as he hears a new voice one night. The voice is from a girl who has disappeared with few leads left for local law enforcement, and Murray is compelled to learn of the girl's whereabouts, sometimes from within, sometimes from an outside influence.
A disclaimer: before reading Desert Angel, The Interrogation of Gabriel James, and Dead Girl Moon, I'd only met Charlie at the before mentioned book signing. Since then, though, I've met him for coffee a couple of times, since we live in the same community. If you're from Shasta County, and you happen upon two large middle-aged guys having coffee, you might shake Charlie's hand if you've enjoyed his books. He'll be the one with hair.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Murray makes for a great character, I really feel for him. His pain and loneliness seeps through the pages as he finds solace in the cemetery, escaping his home life through comforting those who died far too young.
Pearl and Robert, excuse me, Mister Robert Barry Compton also shine with wonderful character development. I found myself rooting for Robert and filled with pride as he started to remember things. Billup and Deputy Gates showed both sides of law-enforcement, the just and the ugly, which was refreshing.
Dead Connection was a novel with a little bit of everything in it; a good mystery, the drama of broken homes, and the coveted fantasy of clairvoyance.