I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
This is book three in the series and absolutely is NOT a standalone. While I'll grant you a story about a criminal psychiatrist who can see the ghosts of the violently departed and is involved in a love triangle with a living FBI agent and a dead serial killer sounds like an altogether insane and confusing plotline, reading this book without reading the others is only going to make things worse. Moreover, my review isn't going to make any sense if you don't know the characters either.
So to start with, this is definitely not the end of a trilogy. Imagine me banging my head against the wall, repeatedly. I don't know where I got it into my head that this would be a trilogy, but I honestly thought it was, and the ending of book 2 for some reason reinforced that impression. It's not, so now I've got to be all irritated waiting around for the next book. I'm truly hoping that one has some sort of resolution, because as understanding as I was about this being a multiple book thing after the first one, because this kind of crazy sauce definitely needed a little more room to work, the bloom is definitely off the rose so far as I'm concerned, and I'm looking for some payoff.
Charlie's back at work in the prison with a truly irritated ghost who thinks she should be on a vacation after her last case. That last case had the unfortunate side effect of opening her senses even further to ghosts, which is where her issues in this book pick up. She also has serious trouble saying no to the FBI, no matter how much she exclaims about how all she wants to do is finish her research. I'd doubt her resolve, but this particular case involves Lena's sister, so I can understand why she feels she needs to help. Which I guesses is my next point; I've become much more interested in Lena and Buzz's story than I am Charlie and Michael, despite the former pair's relatively short page time. When you are just waiting for the resolution of the main characters and find yourself less and less interested in their story, that's a problem. Granted, we find out a whole lot more about Michael, and the story definitely flirts with exploring the nature of guilt and innocence and what does it take to be dammed. Philosophically, it starts to explore if we are condemned not just for what we've done, but our own perspective of and feelings about our actions. But, it doesn't delve long or deeply into those themes. And I want a happily ever after for Michael in the worst way. What's happened to him and what may happen keeps me invested to a point. This is definitely the point where the next book better dammed well give me a happily ever after or I'm going to have less than pleased feelings about the series as a whole. It's felt like we've been building towards something, but without any payoff, this pleasant feelings may evaporate to nothing.
In the end, this is still my kind of crazy sauce story. As I was reading it, I was kept entertained by the mystery and the characters. I honestly didn't see the perpetrator coming, but that could be mostly because I was blinded by the crazy that is Spookville and the relationship between Charlie and Michael. But the ending just feels like being jerked around, so in retrospect, it colors my feelings tremendously. I waiver between enjoying this insanity and being absolutely irritated by the whole thing. Book 4 is either going to see me thrilled with a truly bizarre series, or pissed I've wasted this many hours of my life on something.