Over Her Dead Body by Susan Walter
If you like twisty tales with jaw-dropping twists told from multiple points of view, you’ll want to keep reading.
I read Over Her Dead Body in a matter of hours because I couldn’t help myself. The mystery has a fascinating cast of characters, and I had a love-hate relationship with almost every one of them. The story starts out from the point of view of Ashley, a struggling actress in LA. She’s had a few bit parts, but she’s still waiting for her big break (what she doesn’t know is that it may be her heart that experiences the big break).
There’s Louisa, a former casting director who lives near Ashley in a cartoonish house down a creepy, overgrown drive. There’s Nathan, Louisa’s nephew and the only person in Louisa’s family who will have much of anything to do with her.
Louisa’s kids, Winnie and Charlie, have loads of personal issues. Their relationship has gone south in recent years, as a result of Winnie’s descent into alcoholism and Charlie’s marriage to a woman Winnie can’t stand.
There’s Jordan, Ashley’s roommate and probably my favorite character.
When you mix all these personalities together, there’s bound to be an explosion. And what the author gives the reader is an unforgettable explosion preceded by a gradual unfurling of mystery, drama, and high tension.
I love stories that are told from different points of view because the reader gets a glimpse into the psyches of the characters and is able to see different sides to every scene.
Here’s the basic outline: When Ashley’s dog, Brando, runs off for a midnight romp on Louisa’s property, the scene ends with warning gunshots and Ashley is, predictably, terrified. She runs home sans Brando. She and her roommate are leaving to search for him when she gets a phone call. It’s Nathan, Louisa’s nephew, letting her know that Brando is safe at Louisa’s house. Good thing Brando was wearing his collar with Ashley’s contact information.
When Ashley arrives to collect her dog, the sparks fly between her and Nathan. And it gets better—she is delighted to learn that Louisa might be able to help her land a plum movie role. Louisa has Ashley visit her over the next day or two to work on scripts … but everything comes crashing down when Nathan gets a phone call notifying him of Louisa’s sudden death. And—surprise!—Louisa has left her considerable fortune to someone whose identity shocks everyone.
What follows is a zigzag tale of greed, dreams deferred (or abandoned altogether), jealousy, and revenge. By the end, I was feeling (in a good way) like I had whiplash. Can anyone in this story be trusted?
The Hollywood angle is a brilliant stroke of storytelling. This novel wouldn’t be as scintillating if it were set in any other city because the manipulation on display mirrors that which we all associate with Hollywood. There’s glamour, certainly, but it’s mostly in Louisa’s past and that glamour hides a lot of pain. There’s betrayal in spades. If Hollywood wished to mock itself, this would make a great movie.
I highly recommend Over Her Dead Body to anyone who loves wry humor, satirical mystery, and an easy, fun read. Note: there’s some strong language at play in this book, so if you don’t like a lot of swearing, it’s probably not the book for you.