‘Murder She Wrote’ Meets ‘Dead Like Me’

Sadie Witt is a vibrant sixty-four year old woman who, with her sister, Jane, runs a small resort in northern Minnesota called Witt’s End. Unlike conservative Jane, Sadie wears miniskirts, a thong, tank tops, and spikes her colorful hair. Oh yeah, did I happen to mention she is also a death coach? It seems that the souls of the deceased, who have not crossed over to the other side, meet in cabin 14 to discuss their future plans. They’ve only got thirty days to cross over before they dissolve away into nothing. Sadie is there to help guide them, and of course, only she can see the dead.

At Witt’s End is Beth Solheim’s debut novel. It features a cast of colorful characters, and is about a fifty/fifty split of dead vs. alive. Sadie is by far the strongest character in the book, and some of my favorite scenes were the bickerings between her and her sister.

“That’s repulsive. A woman your age wearing a thong?” The furrows in Jane’s forehead deepened. She lifted Sadie’s purple miniskirt and took a peek. “Don’t those sequins irritate your skin?”
“No. They match the pink in my shirt. It’s called Pink Passion. Color coordination is all the rage. It also matches Belly’s [the dog] neckerchief.” Sadie patted her heavily-gelled, pink-spiked hairdo and said, “Big Leon created this color to coordinate with my outfit.”
“You look like a wad of bubblegum.” pps 90 & 91

As if running a cabin resort and helping the dead figure out how to cross over wasn’t headache enough, Sadie Witt also has to deal with Carl Swanson, a corrupt deputy sheriff trying to get her land. It doesn’t help that one of the dead tells Sadie that a car accident in which he and his parents were killed was no accident at all. Swanson is convinced it was so it’s up to Sadie to help solve the mystery before the boy’s thirty days are up.

At Witt’s End is a quick read and fun little romp. Solheim captured the flavor of northern Minnesota and has given her characters a unique (and some, eccentric) voice. She has added a creative little twist on the paranormal fiction genre and eased it over the border into mystery. Although Solheim did a did a good job of suspending my disbelief of ghosts and a death coach, there were some questions that I would’ve liked answered having to do with ghosts carrying material things and writing notes that can later be seen by the living. Being that the title is At Witt’s End ~ A Sadie Witt Mystery I can only assume that there will be a sequel and hopefully my questions will be answered then.

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