REVIEW: Ain’t She a Peach by Molly Harper
An Atlanta ex-cop comes to sleepy Lake Sackett, Georgia, seeking peace and quiet—but he hasn’t bargained on falling for Frankie, the cutest coroner he’s ever met.
Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.
Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family. Led by Great-Aunt Tootie, the gambling, boozing, dog-collecting matriarch of the family, everyone looks out for one another—which usually means getting up in everyone else’s business.
Maybe that’s why Frankie is so fascinated by new sheriff Eric Linden…a recent transplant from Atlanta, he sees a homicide in every hunting accident or boat crash, which seems a little paranoid for this sleepy tourist town. What’s he so worried about? And what kind of cop can get a job with the Atlanta PD but can’t stand to look at a dead body?
Frankie has other questions that need answering first—namely, who’s behind the recent break-in attempts at the funeral home, and how can she stop them? This one really does seem like a job for the sheriff—and as Frankie and Eric do their best Scooby-Doo impressions to catch their man, they get closer to spilling some secrets they thought were buried forever.
Dear Ms. Harper,
As excited as I was to finally get Frankie McCready’s story, a lot of time, I mean a whole lot of time is spent on recapping the past book/novellas. Yes, the family tree is complicated (and many sincere thanks for including one in the front of the book) and a whole mess of stuff has happened up to this point but a noticeable chunk of words could have been Cliffs Notes, IMO. Since this book follows right on the heels of “Peachy Flippin Keen”, it would be of questionable benefit to skip it and start with this book although the events of the ones before it could probably be managed by just the info included here.
Frankie not only sees but also talks to dead people. Well, her mama raised her right so even though they’re not breathing it would just be rude not to as Frankie prepares them. Oh yes, she’s the town mortician – only one for the only funeral parlor in town – so she gets to send most of the people of Lack Sackett and those tourists there for the boating and fishing who don’t know what they’re doing (bless their hearts) on to whatever reward is awaiting them. Since she’s also the town coroner, she gets lots of interactions with the law as suspicious deaths are investigated or suspicious deaths are proven to, in reality, be not so suspicious after all. Really, the new sheriff in town is liable to sound the alarm on almost everybody though Frankie is able to talk him back around to natural causes – or stupidity if that’s the actual case and it was when Bobby Wayne mixed beer, a shotgun and a terribly built hunting blind – with her experience and expertise.
Sheriff Eric’s overwhelming reaction to Frankie’s customers (clients?) surprises Frankie – after all he was a big city cop in Atlanta, surely he’s seen dead bodies? – but she’s got other fish to fry – well, it’s actually her mama who’s the deep fry specialist of the family with bacon as her medium of choice – as someone has been vandalizing and attempting to break into the family mortuary. Frankie just knows who it is but the overprotected brat’s mama won’t hear a word against her “precious” so the McCreadys are spinning their wheels right now.
Then Frankie’s also trying to work up the nerve to confront her own overprotective parents and fear of death – childhood leukemia will do that – and strike out on her own. Living with your parents at age 28 does hamper your sex life a bit. Something that isn’t a problem for her various cousins – married, unmarried or divorced. Can Frankie catch the rat bastard vandal, help her cousins, and get the lowdown on Eric’s dead people phobia while also trying to get him to get over the fact that their first sexual encounter didn’t end with breakfast in bed?
Free spirited Frankie spent her childhood not sure if she’d survive long enough to learn to drive so she embraces who and what she wants. Plus if some of her fellow Lack Sackett residents are going to think of her as “other” due to her job, she might as well go all out. Blue hair? She’s done it. Funky shoes? Her sneakers are purple. Bizarre t-shirts? Got a collection. One thing Frankie doesn’t mess with is her job. She does it right even if she does have to grit her teeth at the new sheriff’s attitude. But lo to anyone who attempts to break in as Frankie takes her duty to the dead and their families seriously. She can be a teensy bit arrogant and a touch in-your-face but that’s also a little bit of bravado in the face of her insecurities. Plus she’s faced down death and takes shit from no one.
To be honest, when Eric and Frankie finally do let it all out and say what they really think, the fur flies and feelings are hurt but their combustion had been building up even after the hawt sex on the dock after Frankie catches Eric swimming nekked. When this book started, there were times when I wanted to genteelly smack the pair of them upside their heads. Beside free spirited, stubborn as a mule can be written by Frankie’s name. Meanwhile Eric paints himself into a corner by his determination to cross every “t” and dot every “i.” There’s a good reason he needs to do this in his new and still temporary position and when Frankie sees the evidence which shows why and then hears from him how he got to that point, I tend to side with Eric just a smidgen more. Frankie’s cousins, in an epic intervention kind of do too which all gets Frankie thinking. True character maturation starts then.
Everything gets wrapped up – perhaps a touch too easily but the zombies were a big help and the McCreadys know how to work the small town gossip grapevine. I’m satisfied with the comeuppance of the villain. The lives of Frankie’s cousins are moving along nicely and she finally takes a quiet stand for adulthood responsibilities. Her parents are loosening up about giving her quality lecturing – “both pointed and guilt inducing, without being over the top.” Eric is fitting in – “One day, I will understand the things that this family says, and on that day I will be … so scared.” Her parents might wince a bit when Eric comes over for dinner, an evening of mutant shark films (a friend of mine has the whole oeuvre) and sex but I think Eric and Frankie have got things worked out. B