No rest for the newly dead or for the psychic who sees him

This “sheltering in place” has me choosing light-hearted books. This week, I selected Pamela DuMond’s “Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys” from her Annie Graceland Mysteries series.

Annie Rose Graceland Piccolino grew up in Wisconsin and probably would have stayed there, but her handsome husband, Mike, convinced her to move to Los Angeles so he could pursue his modeling/acting career. Annie’s skills as a pastry chef allowed her to work anywhere, and her Piccolino’s Pastries were featured in several eateries. Annie’s other skill is one she’d rather not have; she inherited her grandmother’s mildly psychic abilities. Once in a while, she’ll touch someone and get an “other-worldly” vibe about them.

As the story opens, it is Valentine’s Day. Mike is out of town, and Annie is rushing to a doctor appointment. It is a visit that will rock her world in ways she could never imagine.

First, she gets the news that she’s unlikely to ever conceive. Then she receives an envelope filled with pictures of her husband and another man, Derrick Fuller, in compromising positions. Annie immediately notifies Mike that she’s filing for divorce, summons her best friends Grady and Julia and makes plans to move into a tiny bungalow in a seedy part of town.

Derrick Fuller is well known. He built a lucrative career as the author of “I Promise” books, in which he offers advice on everything from weight loss to career success. His popularity has waned, but he’s convinced he can get back on top with a new manager.

While Annie is packing, Derrick is in the middle of a poorly attended lecture when he is shot in butt by the angry father of a client. Later that evening, he is lounging by his pool wearing only a purple thong. Not long after eating one of his favorite Piccolino’s cupcakes, Derrick Fuller dies, but he doesn’t realize it until his body is taken to the morgue. To his shock, he learns that he died from cyanide poison in the cupcake, making Annie Piccolino the prime suspect.

Apparently, Derrick can’t move on to the afterlife until he finds out who killed him. A series of events connects him with Annie, and she is not happy about having a thong-clad ghost hanging around — especially a ghost that had an affair with her husband. When she tries to use a spell to get rid of Derrick, she messes up and the two are bonded until Derrick’s killer is found.

Sadly, the list of people who disliked him is long. Thus, begins an often-hilarious investigation into Derrick’s life where Annie learns things she’d rather not know. Eventually, she discovers that several others have received compromising photos with Derrick, and they’ve all been photo-shopped.

Someone is trying to widen the list of suspects. Annie is desperate to get rid of Derrick, so she doggedly follows the leads until she finds the culprit. The confrontation answers all her questions but puts her in mortal danger. As expected, Annie is saved by the two officers who first questioned her as a suspect. The story ends while Annie is examining a relationship with one of the cops when Derrick suddenly reappears.

Apparently, he has work to do before he can move into the afterlife. That leads us to book No. 2 in the series.

Books that stand alone or are part of a series offer great reading choices. Your public library has them all. For now, you can go online and check them out.


BOOK: “Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys”

AUTHOR: Pamela Sue DuMond

PUBLISHER: Pamela DuMond Media

PUBLISHED: Jan. 7, 2014

PAGES: 303