This started out okay. It held up for a while as well. It wasn’t what I expected. Talking to the dead and hosting the dead aren’t exactly the same thing The blurb reads a bit disjointed like it couldn’t pick an idea to run with so it ran with everything, still I decided to take a chance on this story anyway and was almost full entertained. Almost.
Firstly, Francesca was written well. She doesn’t come across as a genuinely nice person but she believes she is. Her naivety throughout the entire novel was believable because based on her first appearance you can tell that there’s a strong chance she drove someone to want to murder her. She’s the perfect amount of annoying sprinkled with more than a healthy helping of cluelessness and denial. Honestly, I didn’t like her but that was a good thing. This, however, is also the problem. As more and more is revealed about her and how she might have met her end I got the sense some sort of self-revelation was going to happen. Some sort of epiphany where even though no one deserves to be murdered she understood that the life she led could definitely lead her to said end.
There were so many clues attesting to her character and the fact she might grow and learn from a new perspective on the life she lived. I’m just going to run through a few in no particular order so these may, or may not be spoilers.
Her best friend said she talked about her ex to Francesca, but Francesca didn’t even notice her new boyfriend soon to be husband had the same first name. I thought maybe she didn’t tell her beforehand so it was an honest mistake but nope. She just paid her supposed friend very little attention. There’s also the bit where she tells us her husband bought her a trip to New York only to find out they had a massive argument about it in which he told her they could not afford it. Even faced with this evidence at the end she still argues with him after death that she could even though the readers now know it’s a lie she’s created to justify the trip.
She says she has the perfect relationship but every time she thinks back on what she considers minor arguments they actually turn out to be major events and, even though her husband has major aggression issues, she’s a big part to blame for these fights. She spends more money than him and is the main reason they are in debt. In fairness, her husband overspends too but it’s only in retaliation to her as one character points out. She of course blocks out all of this and says to herself they are swimming in money even though they are deep in debt and Rob has told her this multiple times. The same way she didn’t know he dated her BFF, she didn’t notice his promotion meant he didn’t get paid overtime. Sigh. How could she not know this when firstly he told her, and less money is coming in, and all their arguments are about money. Basically, she ignores him and any faults he has to create the perfect mommy blogger life and she isn’t even a mom yet.
There’s a brief mention of his aggression issues from the BFF, that isn’t too shocking but Francesca’s only response is that it’s a lie because her husband is the bestest man ever. Sigh. And then, at the end of the book, two random incidents where he could’ve been abusive to her are mentioned to make him seem more of the bad guy. My problem here is that she ignores him so much to keep up the farce of their stupidly perfect relationship that they are the only two incidents she can recall in their entire marriage, and they are vague. The likelihood of an abuser not abusing is slim but he did stop because even that didn’t’ burst the happy bubble she created for them. She basically ignored him all around till it got to the point he stopped caring and complied with her and started spending as little time with her as humanly possible. And it didn’t stop there.
She swooped in and stole a contract she didn’t need from someone who did because she could. Frugal is in her mommy blog title but she spends like crazy even on do-it-yourself cheap projects on her blog she hires out off-camera teams to get the jobs done thus spending money. Everyone close to her thinks her entire existence revolves around her and, unfortunately, all the evidence in the book points towards this truth. Yet she never confronts any of these things. Even when her husband points out he is a computer tech and not a handyman yet she still expected him to do things he could never ever get right and complained if he did them wrong. Even after telling her he couldn’t do them because apparently in her mind that’s his job, evidence be damned, she ignores it for the vision of him she’s created. Sigh. (honestly, I don’t know if she did the drawer thing wrong or if he did I just know he got blamed for the disaster.)
Beyond that, the plot flowed well. There were more than a few laughs. And as far as mysteries go, this is the everyone knows who did it but how and why type of story and mystery wise it did its do, and it did its do well without dragging on for too long. The problem was that Francesca didn’t learn a thing. In the final scene, which was unnecessary considering the case was over, justice served I honestly thought the book was done and we were going to get a nice wrap-up. Since that didn’t happen I thought this last scene was a chance for her to face the music of how the self-centred life she led, led to her ultimate demise, and… nope. She’s still arguing about how she could afford things, and how she this, and how she that, and walks away from the entire experience the exact same woman she came in as. I want to sympathise with her. But after spending the whole story hearing those close to her talk about how boring and one dimensional she was. Having her husband want to give up everything to live on a farm disconnected from everything because he wanted a life that didn’t revolve around her blog. Listening to her talk down on people so much the medium whose body she shared was constantly judging her and she talked herself up so much you could almost feel this same medium rolling her eyes at the self-righteousness of it all. The list is endless of evidence to her less than stellar character. And not even a single sentence of self-reflection. It’s still all woe is me and I’m a good person. Sigh.
Honestly, the ending was such a letdown and undid a lot of the book in a big way. After all this set-up, and reveals, and hard truths Francesca had to go through the very idea she doesn’t think for a second she could’ve lived her life a bit better was frustrating. The novel really and truly felt like that was where her character arc was going. I was ready for some deep, hardcore, sad, and uncomfortable truths. The end parts of this book were one big missed opportunity to dig into Francesca’s re-evaluation of where she placed her values in life. She forced the detective whose body she was in to do up her makeup and dress better by taking control of her body and thought she was doing her a favour by invading her personal space beyond the fact they were sharing a body. I really, really thought she’d grow beyond that person.
So, again, the book was funny, and entertaining, and the main character’s story arc started off with good intentions like it was going to reach some sort of soul searching end, but didn’t. It’s a shame because otherwise, this was a good book to read. Her naivety and general all-about-me-ness was handled well. Unfortunately, without the pay off the murder arrest itself isn’t enough to be satisfying. Actions have consequences and her murderer learned this by getting arrested, it’s a shame she didn’t learn much about herself by being murdered.