Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin Series #1)

Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin Series #1)

by Casey Daniels

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Overview

She sees dead people

Beautiful, smart, and chic, Pepper Martin never had to work a day in her life -- until her surgeon daddy was convicted of fraud, her wealthy fiancé took a powder, and the family fortune ran bone dry.

Suddenly desperate, the inexperienced ex-rich girl was forced to take the only job she could get: as a tour guide in a cemetery. But a grave situation took a turn for the worse when a head-on collision with a headstone left her with an unwanted ability to communicate with the disgruntled deceased . . . and now Pepper has a whacked Mafia don demanding that she hunt down his killers -- and threatening to haunt her until she does.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061828836
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Pepper Martin Series , #1
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 123,773
File size: 354 KB

About the Author

Casey Daniels once applied for a job as a tour guide in a cemetery. She didn't get the job, but she did get the idea for the Pepper Martin mystery series. Casey learned to love mysteries early thanks to her father, a Cleveland Police detective who enjoyed Sherlock Holmes stories and spent his days off searching for stolen cars—with Casey along for the ride. Later, she read her way through every mystery on the library shelves. Casey has a degree in English and a background in journalism and teaching. She is the author of two previous Pepper Martin mysteries, Don of the Dead and The Chick and the Dead, and lives in Northeast Ohio.

Read an Excerpt

Don of the Dead

A Pepper Martin Mystery
By Casey Daniels

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Casey Daniels
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060821469

Chapter One

I have to admit, the first time Gus Scarpetti spoke to me, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention.

After all, the guy had been dead for thirty years. How much could he possibly have to say?

"Hey, doll baby!" He called out from the back of the crowd that was gathered around me, and though I'm usually pretty quick on my feet, I was so freaked when I saw him that I was speechless.

I glanced over my shoulder at the black marble mausoleum that contained the worldly remains of Gus Scarpetti. I looked back toward where this Gus Scarpetti wound his way in and out of the clumps of tourists waiting for me to begin the day's talk: "Cleveland's Famous Dead."

Dead being the operative word.

I reminded myself of that fact while I watched Scarpetti sidestep between two blue-haired ladies. "Doll baby. Hey!" He gave me the once-over. Like I'd been hearing since I was thirteen, I was too tall for a girl. Five eleven. Just about the same height as this guy. I also happened to have a size 38C bust. Guys always noticed. Even guys who were pretending to be dead guys.

Scarpetti stared at my chest for a while and he smiled when he looked me in the eye. "You got no manners? I'm talking to you. Theleast you could do is say hello."

"Hello." I answered automatically. I was still trying to figure out who concocted a joke this lame. Whoever it was, I had to give him (or her) credit. Where they found a Gus Scarpetti who looked exactly like the Gus Scarpetti I had seen in the pictures in the cemetery's research archives was a mystery to me.

The guy was shaped like a bull, compact and big-boned, with a nose that sat on his face at an angle, a souvenir of his early years working as mob muscle. He had a football player's neck, as beefy as a porterhouse. Like the photos I'd seen, this Gus Scarpetti was dressed in a perfectly tailored dark suit, a fat tie, and a diamond ring on the pinky finger of his left hand. A white handkerchief peeked out of his breast pocket.

It was probably what he'd been buried in.

The thought sent a shiver up my spine, and I shook it away. Good thing. My too-curly carrot-colored hair was wound into a braid and it twitched against the back of my white polo shirt, snapping me back to reality.

It had taken me a solid week to get the script for this tour down pat. Now this guy shows up and throws me off my game? He deserved to be put on the spot. I made a sweeping gesture toward our guest. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you all to meet Mr. Augustino Scarpetti."

You'd think it would have had a little more effect on the crowd. A little more than none, anyway.

Two dozen pairs of eyes stared at me. As empty as my checkbook. Two dozen people whose sticky tags said their names were things like Gladys and Rose and Henry, waited for me to say more.

No one at Garden View Cemetery had ever bothered to tell me how to handle a cemetery-tour heckler. I knew I had to punt.

"Mr. Augustino Scarpetti is buried here." I pointed toward the mausoleum with its Egyptian columns at the front corners and a door that had been imported all the way from Italy. It was brass with a glass insert, and according to what I'd been told by the folks who knew about these things, the door cost more than I paid in rent for an entire year. I guess that was only right since the mausoleum was bigger than my apartment.

Pretty classy digs for someone who was too dead to appreciate it.

From the other side of the door, I could see the glow of the stained-glass window at the far end of the mausoleum, the oriental rug that covered the marble floor, and the dozen red roses that were delivered every week like clockwork. Always on Thursday, the day Gus Scarpetti had been gunned down.

When I turned back around, I half expected that the Gus clone would be gone. But he was still there, looking as interested in what I had to say as everyone else in the group. Which was pretty much the reminder I needed to get my head back into the game.

"I'll bet most of you have heard stories about Gus," I said, and everybody but Gus nodded enthusiastically. "His mob nickname was the Pope, and he was the head of one of the largest crime families in -- "

"One of the largest?" Scarpetti looked me over like I was a salami hanging in a deli window. His eyes glinted. Just like the diamonds in his ring. "What idiot told you to say that? One of the largest? That's what they get for letting a girl talk about something as important as this. The Scarpetti Family was the largest. The largest family. Go ahead, you tell them that."

"I don't have to. You just did."

"Did what?" The question came from a woman named Betty in the front row. I looked her way.

"What he said," I told her.

Betty turned toward where I pointed. "He who?"

"He. Him." For a second, I wondered how the practical joker (whoever he -- or she -- was) had convinced the Heights Lutheran Senior Citizens League to go along with the gag. Just as quickly, I decided there was no way. They couldn't be bullshitting me. Not all of them. Not Lutherans.

"Gus Scarpetti. The mobster." This time I didn't just point, I stabbed, the gesture broad enough so that even Chester, the guy with the thick glasses who stood at Betty's side, could see it. "Gus Scarpetti is -- "

My stomach hit bottom, then bounced up again and lodged in my throat.

Because that's when I realized that nobody else saw the guy.

Continues...


Excerpted from Don of the Dead by Casey Daniels Copyright © 2006 by Casey Daniels. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Linda O. Johnstone

“[A] charming, imaginative mystery that transcends the boundaries of time, death and predictability, peppered with some delightful romantic twists.

Kerrelyn Sparks

“A spooky mystery, a spunky heroine, and sparkling wit! Give us more!”

Emilie Richards

“There’s not a ghost of a chance you’ll be able to put this book down. Write faster, Casey Daniels.”

MaryJanice Davidson

“[F]abulous! One of the funniest books I’ve read this year. Or last year, come to think of it.”

Laura Bradley

“Carrie of Sex in the City going Six Feet Under with The Sopranos. Hip, original, out-of-this world fun!”

Shirley Damsgaard

“The fast paced dialogue and plenty of twists keep the reader turning the pages…I can’t wait to read more!”

Roberta Isleib

“A delightful read!”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Don of the Dead 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
KayleeLS More than 1 year ago
Whenever I find a new author whose books I want to read, I always pick the first book in the series. Which was the reason for picking "Don Of The Dead", the first in the Pepper Martin series. I was impressed. This is a fun book to read. I really like the main character, Pepper Martin. She's smart, witty but a bit clumsy, which is how she ends up with The Don, Gus Scarpetti. Pepper sees dead people and Gus is a murdered Mafia Don who wants her help. Gus makes the story, he adds the mystery and the reason for Pepper's motivation in solving his murder. I love some of the twists that were added, especially to Pepper's love life. I enjoyed this book so much, that I plan to purchase the rest of the series. This is the perfect book for a summer read or for snowy days, or just for fun.
starcrazy More than 1 year ago
So far, l've read the first two books in this series. While I find Pepper to be funny and the plots to be interesting, I'm reluctant to get the next book, as I find that Pepper's character isn't progressing much. I'm not a fan of characters that are almost totally self-centered. They're entertaining for a couple of books, but then they become so predictable that I begin to lose interest. I like characters that learn from what happens to them, not ones who constantly whine about how unfair life is and act like they don't have a clue about the world around them; which to me, at least, pretty much sums up Pepper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first started the book, I wasn't sure it was for me, I even considered returning the next two books in the series, but I hung in there and it was worth it. Loved Casey Daniels sarcasm and humor and the fact the Pepper acknowledged all of her kookie issues, but kept on keeping on. The last third of the book really held my attention and now I can't wait to read more about Quinn and The Brain Man...especially the Brain Man...no wait, Quinn...no wait...anyway, I plan to crack open the next book this evening. Other review writers, PLEASE, don't tell actual story details, especially not the ending. It ruins it for those still deciding whether or not to read the book.
StephanieD More than 1 year ago
"Don of the Dead" is the first book in a series by Casey Daniels. It's in first person, and it's hilarious. Pepper Martin is the only tour guide at the Garden View cemetary. It is her job to inform tourists all about the "residents" at Garden View. One of the most famous being Gus Scarpetti, a mobster who was gunned down 30 years ago. Pepper hit her head against his mausoleum a week or two ago and now she can see him! And he has a favor to ask. His murder was never solved and now he wants Pepper to solve the mystery. The whole book is funny and light. There's a lot of mob speak and Gus, despite being a mobster, is a real gentelman and you'll become attached to him! This is a great book and I can't wait to get to the rest of the series!
madamejeanie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pepper Martin had thought her life was all planned out. Her plastic surgeon father and country club mother, her upbringing in the solid upper class neighborhood, her fairly useless college degree in Art History and her handsome fiancé were as much facts of her life as her red hair and almost 6 foot frame. Until her father went to federal prison for Medicare fraud, her mother crawled into a bottle, the house was foreclosed and her boyfriend backed off in a hurry, leaving no forwarding address. So, she took the first job she could find to try to support herself for the first time in her life -- as a tour guide at the largest cemetery in Cleveland. Learning all the details about mausoleums and headstones and leading tour groups interested in the famous and infamous people buried there gave her just enough income to keep body and soul together. The morning she slipped on the dewy grass and hit her head on the corner of a marble mausoleum turned out to be a turning point in her life when she suddenly became aware that the ghost of Augustus Scarpetti, "alleged" Mafia Don, had started following her around. Scarpetti was making her an offer she couldn't refuse, literally. He wanted her to find out who was behind the hit that took him out that night 40 years ago, and he intended to follow her around haunting her until she did it. But, old grievances never really die until ALL the parties involved are dead, and the more Pepper digs, the more the odds are that she'll soon be joining Gus prowling around the tombstones.The premise of this book is not really new -- she sees dead people -- but it was written with just the right amount of humor and pathos to keep me reading. It took me a little while to like Pepper because I don't have a huge fondness for poor little rich girls, but I liked the way she thought. The writing was good, but not great, and there was one moment when I had the distinct impression that an editor had left out something fairly important when a reference was made to something that the reader was apparently supposed to know. I hate when that happens, but it wasn't glaring enough to be that disturbing. This is a nice little beginning to another ghost series.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: I have to admit, the first time Gus Scarpetti spoke to me, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention.Pepper Martin is a spoiled little rich girl. Growing up with wealthy Doctor Daddy, she's coasted along on her looks and her money; not applying herself in school because she knew an advantageous marriage awaited her. Well, it did until Doctor Daddy was convicted of Medicare fraud. Abandoned by her snooty fiance and stripped of every luxury she was accustomed to, Pepper is skating atop the thin ice of life as a tour guide in a Cleveland, Ohio cemetery and dreaming of working in the shoe department of Saks Fifth Avenue (at least until the real Mr. Right comes along).While she's guiding some old folks around the cemetery, she falls and cracks her head on the steps of the mausoleum of gangster Gus Scarpetti. Now all of a sudden, she's being harassed by a ghost who insists that she finds out who really killed him outside his favorite restaurant. Pepper would rather ace her Saks job interview and concentrate on Mr. Handsome Cop and Mr. Handsome Brainy Geek, but Gus just won't take no for an answer.As a first book and the first book in a series, Don of the Dead was uneven. The two new men in her life seemed to fade in and out, only showing up when required by the plot, which also had some gaps.Unfortunately Pepper is one of the most annoying types of characters I can encounter in any type of book: the whiny little rich girl who thinks her best feature is her boobs. I originally started counting the number of times Pepper thrust her assets in some poor hapless male's face, but I had to stop because it was merely annoying me. And before anyone reading this review thinks I'm jealous... well, I laugh in your general direction. Compared to me, Pepper is flat-chested.By book's end the plot, pacing and characterization had come together, and I can see where this first book holds real promise for the continuation of the series. I am curious about these future books, but I may have to pass on them unless someone in the know can tell me that Pepper starts believing that her true assets rely on IQ, not cup size.
zette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don of the Dead is not the sort of book I would normally pick up. I am not a chick-lit reader of any sort, though I do enjoy a mystery now and then. The title of this book caught my attention and the back cover left me intrigued, so I picked up the book on a whim.I was not disappointed.Don of the Dead is a funny, fast romp with an unlikely twist for the heroine. Pepper Martin works as a cemetery tour guide in Cincinnati where there are more than a few famous dead. However, after a fall and blow to the head, she suddenly has the very unwanted ability to communicate with some of those dead. And right now she has to deal with a wise-cracking Mafia don who will continue to haunt her until she finds out who killed him.Solving such an old crime is no easy task, even with the Don himself helping out along the way. Nor is it easy to have any kind of love life with Don Scarlotti watching over Pepper. She's determined to lay him to rest so she can have a little peace again!This book is well-written, engaging, and fun. The main character is smart and sassy and Casey Daniels doesn't try the reader's patience by having Pepper make obvious mistakes in an attempt to keep the tension high in the story.This is a delight to read. I even gave it to my husband who equally loved it.
nmhale on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A socialite finds her world turned upside down when her doctor father is disgraced and incarcerated, her wealthy boyfriend abandons her, and she is forced into the workplace to earn her own living. She finds a job at the local graveyard, and during one of her days on duty, she bumps her head on a tombstone and discovers that she can talk to ghosts. Not just anyone, either, but the ghost of a famous mobster. As the final straw in her craziness, this ghost wants her to find his actual killer!Sounds campy, which is exactly the reason I chose it. I enjoy a little silly nonsense sometimes. A little romance, a little paranormal ghost action, a little mystery ... what could be better? Unfortunately, this book just didn't quite work for me. And I really wanted to like it! It wasn't terrible, it was still a fast read, just certain elements either didn't hold my attention or didn't add up right.For one thing, I didn't care about the mystery element too much. I was sympathetic towards Gus, the mobster, but I wasn't all too concerned with who killed him. Second, one of Pepper's two main love interests really annoyed me. There's the brain man (a doctor) and the cop. They both are incredibly gorgeous (of course), but one is too caught up in his work, and the other is an arrogant jerk. Okay, I don't think the author intended this to be our only impression of him, but really. The jerk, a.k.a. the cop, thinks far too much of himself, and expects Pepper to answer to his every demand. Which she would, if she could. That was another aspect that bothered me. Pepper is supposed to be this feisty and hot tempered independent woman, but she is constantly giving in to the men around her. Sure, she may yell and get angry, but she often does what they tell her to. And when she defies the cop, she spends a lot of time moping around about lost opportunities, and wishing that she hadn't. This was one of those books that had such great potential, but didn't deliver, at least not for me. I might try one more book in the series, since the next mystery sounds more compelling, and I found Pepper to be bolder towards the end of the book. Maybe it will pick up for me as the series progresses.
pacey1927 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this book on a whim so imagine my suprise when I finished the book and it sunk in how much I really enjoyed the story! Pepper Martin is a debutante in trouble. She had to recently take a job because her doting dad is doing time in jail and she has no one to spoil her anymore. Her fiance dumped her because he didn't want to marry into a convict's family. Lacking many skills, Pepper finds herself leading tours in one of Cleveland's oldest cemetaries. Ater a bump on the head, Pepper finds she is able to see the ghost of a mafi head, dead now for thirty years! And he wants her to find out who killed him... I will admit that the novel started a little slow and the first couple of chapters I wondered if I had gotten into a dud. But far from it! The story was exciting...there were plenty of people to be suspicious of...Gus, the ghost was entertaining and extremely likeable..(I know, right?) Pepper is also a very enduring character. She proves to be fairly smart (to her surprise) and she comes across as having a genuine heart as well. The book leaves a few loose threads hanging to make you want to continue reading the series, but it also completely wraps up the mystery at hand. There is nothing disappointing in the story, the characters, or the conclusion. My only one minor point of contention, is the fact that we know the don was a big bad mafia guy. The book never leads you to think anything except that he had a hand in some 'hits' but you couldn't tell that from this guy's ghost. Yet, the book never explains why he is so endearing and affable in the afterlife. Just something that made me think "what the heck". I would recommend this book to mystery/paranormal fans out there. I also say this is among the best books I have read that deal with the "I see dead people" storyline. It does a great job of being individual enough to stand out. I eagerly look forward to getting my hands on the other books in this series.
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chick Lit meets mystery with a paranormal twist in this first Pepper Martin Mystery. Cemetery tour guide, Pepper Martin must solve the murder of mob boss Gus, The Pope, Scarpetti or be haunted by his spirit for the rest of her life. This light, entertaining mystery left me anxious for the next in the series.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever since she knocked her head Pepper can see the dead. Working as a tour guide in a cemetery this can make things interesting.Readable and fun, and a fun change from vampire paranormals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book. I look forward to reading the next one in the series.
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Good idea for a book. I think Casey and Charlaine Harris should get together and introduce there Pepper and Harper Connelly to each other and see what they can come up with.
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I enjoyed the quirkiness. It was a fun read!
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avid-readerCA More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book and will read the rest of the series.