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Always Kiss the Corpse on Whidbey Island
Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto
October 2010
Touchwood Mystery

Always Kiss the Corpse on Whidbey Island is the second mystery novel in the Islands Investigations International series by Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto. While the premise is interesting, novel, and deals with controversial subject matter, the more you get into Always Kiss the Corpse on Whidbey Island the more you wish to get voted off

The mystery begins when Sandro Vasiliadis dies, presumably of a heroin overdose. At his sparsely attended traditional open-casket funeral his grief-stricken mother fails to recognize the body. Convinced the body is not her son’s, Maria Vasiliadis hires investigators Kyra Rachel and Noel Franklin to discover Sandro’s whereabouts.

What the detectives uncover is Sandro is indeed dead, was happily and excitedly exploring and thrilling dream life freeing him to be the person of his destiny. This makes suicide an unlikely option. It could however have shamed and disgraced far reaching branches of the Vasiliadis family.

A momentary switch in the narrative voice (on page 193 in the advanced reading copy) highlights the upcoming barrage of literary annoyances. Sentences too often disintegrate into sloppy, choppy, ill-fitting fragments at times barely worthy of a high school creative writing class. The dialogue is unimaginative and information is repeated almost ad nauseum when new characters are added.

Some of the writing is highly questionable: “Noel poured himself a glass of red wine and opened the refrigerator. Familiar leftovers from the potluck. Which somehow didn’t appeal. Might have if Kyra and he were eating together. No, Roquefort and bread and a little butter would do him nicely.” (page 206, advance edition)

Characters in this collaboration by Sandy Frances Duncan and George Szanto are uninteresting and largely unsympathetic.

Always Kiss the Corpse on Whidbey Island has some nice, well-done segments but when and why it lapses into decidedly second rate writing makes one wonder if the authors used a tag team approach to its writing.

The mystery deals with a sensitive topic. The authors’ apology – disclaimer is a surprising addition. Since it appears at the beginning, it acts as a spoiler.

This is more a “so what” than a mystery novel.