Dead Men are Heavier than Broken Hearts by A.M. Morrow

The American crime novel is a staple to our culture. Something that is thrilling time and time again, even if it does tend to have the same formula; logical crime investigator/cop finds the clues, links them up with little outside help, and eventually finds the criminal at large. A.M. Morrow has come along and in a refreshing manner and has turned the American crime novel on its head. Peter Rubedo is a green private investigator. Peter is a twenty-five year old eager to prove his worth as a detective in his family’s long history of private investigation. But our hero has a secret. He communicates with his dead family on a regular basis, with the help of a Ouji boards set up for purpose of intergenerational communication but his ancestors. After a few extra marital affairs and petty crime investigations, Peter finally gets his big break with a missing person’s case. As he begins to delve into the case of David Muguet, it leads him to a new age cult and a series of questions about murder, mysterious drug use, and visions. As the body count continues to rise around him, Peter must try to decipher the unclear clues that everyone seems to want to give him.

The premise for the book is extremely interesting. Peter Rubedo is just an average man trying to make it in the family business. The thing that I perhaps found most interesting about it is just how green Rubedo is to detective work. He doesn’t seem driven or focused at all. Half the time he gives up on leads because he’s too tired or cold and he just wants to go home. He seems sloppy and his behavior shows his youth, which works well in the context of the character. The story doesn’t have the reader try to believe that this kid is a crime solving prodigy, it just portrays him as a real person trying to do his job and make a living. He makes several rookie mistakes throughout the book and gets chastised by his dead family members on more than one occasion for failing to do the obvious detective thing of finding the motive behind the crimes committed. Marrow’s use of mystery surrounding the Benjamin Ellis Foundation was actually quite brilliant. It almost gave the reader the idea that they are trapped in a dream of sorts, blurring the lines of reality in the story. Admittedly, the ending is a bit anticlimactic. The reader is left with way too many questions unanswered, and yet, the ending fits perfectly with the rest of the book. In the end, it wasn’t about the case at all. However, development is needed for most of the characters, particularly the character of Paulina Zajac and an elaboration on the nature of her relationship with Rubedo. Overall, A.M. Marrow’s style is enjoyable, and we hope to read more from this author in the future. Dead Men Are Heavier Than Broken Hearts is a crime novel that dares to explore questions of existence, reality, and what is beyond.

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