Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review: The Dead Play On by Heather Graham

The Dead Play On (Cafferty & Quinn, Book #3)
by Heather Graham
Release Date: March 31, 2015
2015 Mira Books
Hardcover Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778317739
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Musicians are being murdered in New Orleans. But Arnie Watson apparently died by his own hand. When Tyler Anderson plays the saxophone he inherited from Arnie, a soldier and musician who died soon after his return, he believes he sees visions of his friend's life—and death. He becomes convinced Arnie was murdered and that the instrument had something to do with whatever happened, and with whatever's happening all over the city…

Tyler knows his theory sounds crazy to the police, so he approaches Danni Cafferty, hoping she and Michael Quinn will find out what the cops couldn't. Or wouldn't. After all, Cafferty and Quinn have become famous for solving unusual crimes.

They're partners in their personal lives, too. Quinn's a private investigator and Danni works with him. When they look into the case, they discover a secret lover of Arnie's and a history of jealousies and old hatreds that leads them back to the band Arnie once played with—and Tyler plays with now. 

My Thoughts
The Dead Play On was a solid entry into the Caffety & Quinn series.  I have been a faithful reader of the Heather Graham books for quite a while now, and depend on them for their formulaic and predictable plot lines as an escape from my usual heavier hitting reading material.  I think they are fun and usually interesting, and completely go against what I expect in a usual mystery novel.  However, in this one, I was somewhat disappointed as Quinn's overprotectiveness really got on my nerves even though it was interesting to see Quinn and Danni learn to develop greater trust in each other and come to terms with boundary issues.

As always, I am drawn to these books because of two things, the paranormal and New Orleans.  I was not disappointed in the second aspect as it was fun to re-visit Bourbon Street and other areas of the city that I have visited so I could visualize it in my mind.  I stayed right in the area the author described so it was very easy to imagine the scene, especially at night.  As always, the author manages to deliver the 'flavour' of New Orleans, both the darker side and the fun, cleaner side during the day with all of the quirks the city has to offer, including all of the costume shops, the types of voodoo shops, the souvenir shops, and of course, the food.  I have been craving crawfish etouffe for days now.   Unfortunately, one of the aspects that I do look forward to in these novels, the paranormal, was lacking; for whatever reason, the author avoided the paranormal in this one so that creepy atmosphere that tends to exist in her novels just wasn't there and I felt like something was seriously missing.  It was incredibly disappointing, to say the least.

The mystery itself was okay, although I did manage to figure out who it was quite early in the novel; maybe I've read too many of her books and caught on to the formula, but that's not really why I read them.  I have always liked the characters and the banter between them, but in this one, I couldn't quite connect to the them the way I usually do; I didn't really felt empathetic towards any of them, and Quinn was just annoying with his protectiveness, while Danni's friend was just downright whiny.  It got rather annoying after awhile.  |The author did tone it down towards the end so it did get better, but I think the echo of it was still there while I was reading.  

The Dead Play On was an okay entry into the Caffety & Quinn series.  I love the New Orleans setting and the flavour it gives these books as the author has a way of describing it that makes you feel as if you are right there.  The plot was okay, but not up to the usual twists and turns that I expected, and I didn't really feel that connection with the characters that I usually do, which is a shame, as there are some interesting secondary characters in this series.  I thought the creepiness that usually exists in one of these novels was nonexistent; it needs to go back to the paranormal roots that is expected in a Heather Graham novel. 


  1. A solid, well written review. I've seen her work on the shelves for years, but I've never picked up any of her books.