Shaking Off The Dust
by Rhianna Samuels, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-851-8


It all started with a bomb, set by terrorists, that went off in a plane. Among the casualties was the famous neurosurgeon Dr Tom Mecurio. Our heroine, the emergency room nurse Hannah Campbell, attends his memorial at the start of the story because Tom saved her life once upon a time. Tom had already been cremated and these people are just giving long speeches while holding the urn containing Tom's ashes. As Hannah is getting ready to scatter Tom's ashes into the nearby lake, a strong wind just happens to blow and sends the ashes right into her face. She is still coughing and trying to breathe after accidentally inhaling and shallowing corpse dust when lightning strikes. It's blackout time.

After the dramatic end to the memorial, it is to be expected, I suppose, for Hannah to come to a while later to realize that she can see and communicate with the ghost of Tom Mecurio. Tom is soon urging Hannah to help him figure out why he's still around and why she can see him. Because Hannah isn't on first name basis with M Night Shyamalan, she has to settle for the next best thing: Tom's best buddy, Dr Takeshi Shimodo. These two will soon discover that the terrorists that planted the bomb on that plane are not to be messed with.

Shaking Off The Dust is technically a pretty good story. The prose is clean and readable and the story is certainly interesting enough as it is not an everyday kind of fare. But - oh yes, there is a "but", sorry - as much as I find this story interesting, I don't really feel compelled to love it to pieces. I can't pinpoint any specific reason why this is so. Perhaps it's because the main characters are pretty bland in that while they don't do stupid things to annoy me, they also don't really stand out in any way to me. They're likable characters, but quite nondescript at the same time. Or maybe it's the romance that doesn't really get much credible development, as if it's some kind of afterthought as Ms Samuels concentrates on Hannah and Takeshi trying to crack the mystery that is Tom's ghostly existence. Or maybe it's the fact that some of the most important dramatic scenes relevant to the mystery take place off-screen, therefore diluting the effect of these scenes.

Whatever the reason is, while I can certainly appreciate Shaking Off The Dust as a most interesting and reasonably enjoyable way to spend a few hours, at the same time I can't get too excited over this book. There is something about the story - the characters, the storyline development, maybe both - that leaves me cold.

Rating: 81


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