Dead By My Side
By Gloria Galloway
Sacramento homicide investigators Anthony Camarelli and his partner Julia Reynolds have worked well together. When after a boring stakeout Julia is shot and killed, Anthony thinks his world has come to an end. However, their ‘partnership’ hasn’t ended because she reappears as a ghost. Not knowing her purpose, she nonetheless helps Tony return to work. Just in time, too, because he and his new partner catch a domestic killing followed by what turns out the latest in a string of serial murders spanning back to Atlanta. Enter the FBI and an attractive agent named Romero. Romero, Camarelli, a task force, with as much assistance from Julia as she can provide in her spirit state, begin gathering what evidence is available. But the killer keeps taunting them with more bodies. How many more women will die before he is caught or moves on to another killing field?
The concept of a ghost partner is not new but isn’t done too often. I was hoping for more from Julia but she tends to play almost a supportive role rather than a main character. The ghost part is subdued. She uses her condition to aid Tony by trying to connect with the victims in order to provide clues, but I wanted more involvement from her, especially at the conclusion. Also, there is the underlying question of why she returned and stayed even through the case’s end. This question is never answered. Still, it’s a good murder mystery.
Anthony Camarelli: Sacramento Sheriff’s Department officer, Italian, marksman with numerous trophies, has a “Rosie” heart tattoo, lapsed Catholic, mother and sister both alive, born and raised in Sacramento. Dad owned a gas station. Charmer and attracts women.
Julia Reynolds: 35, Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, Anthony’s partner, tall , chestnut hair, has a Wonder Woman tattoo, likes scary movies, sleeps with a night light, parents dead, likes expensive fashion shoes
Rita Romero: FBI Special Agent in Charge. Very attractive with long, curly red hair. Came from Chicago. Graduated from Harvard Law. Father was with the Bureau. Married but separated.
Some standard characters here but a well rounded cast. Camarelli likes the ladies, but he also shows emotion. Julia has a bit of depth, especially in the church scene when she begging for answers. Relative to the problem below with time, Camarelli hooks up with a manicurist/pedicurist but after their one wild time together, you never see her again.
Pretty distinctive voices. Galloway does a good job of keeping in cop-speak. There are some lecture conversations, but nothing over the top and I like the fact that even though I’ve read hundreds of murder mysteries, some of the process is explained. For instance, Romero lets the reader know about organized and disorganized killers.
Some profanity, but the story deals with cops. A few misspellings. There’s also a time issue. A lot of time passes from the time of Julia’s death to the end of the story and it’s not very evident. The story moves along fairly well in regards to each murder but I didn’t see the weeks and months that pass with nothing going on. The story jumps from one incident to another. I only caught the passage of the time when it is mentioned almost a year has gone by since Julia’s death. There is some wry humor at times to keep it from dragging too deep into the grittiness of some serial killer novels. I wasn’t excited by how the case was solved, though. Too pat, too easy.