Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: "Morgue Drawer Next Door" by Jutta Profijt

Morgue Drawer Next Door review
Author: Jutta Profijit
5 out of 5 stars

My Thoughts: I adored the first book in this series, Morgue Drawer Four (my review for that book can be seen here on my blog Now is Gone.), and was so excited to receive and read this second book in the series (which is slowly being translated and made available in the USA). Like the first book, this one is filled with amusing moments, starting right with the prologue, and continuing through the entire text. How about a quote to give you an idea about Pascha’s delightful “voice” in this book?

The most popular game [in the hospital] is Cholesterol Canasta, where the plague patients, vivisection victims, and ambulant biohazard bags try to one-up each other with their hellish blood panels and urine tests. For a long time, the undisputed winner was a two-hundred-and-fifty-kilo diabetic with renal insufficiency, fatty liver disease, and food poisoning. The only infection he didn’t have was HIV... by the way, 250 kilos is roughly equivalent to 400 lbs, for those who, like me, are metrically challenged.

Or how about this sterling example of a German poly-word used to describe an espresso maker with all the accoutrements built in? Espressobohnenmühlenmilchschäumerkaffeetassenvorglühvollautomat, to which I say Gesundheit!

Then there this is this amusing comment by Pascha: It was time for her to finally get that all of that sanctimonious drivel is just the opiate of the masses. Ha, even I was educated enough to know that quote. From Gandhi.

Also, Pascha’s constant self-conscious meta-comments about his editor really amused me, since I am, myself, an editor. I really enjoyed Pascha and Sister Marlene’s interactions – the unrepentant car thief and the nun. His explanation as to why stealing cars is good for the economy really cracked me up, as did this little interaction: Marlene’s praise went down like a cold beer after a greasy burger. She could sense this. “You’re not at all as bad as you pretend,” she said. Careful... Now she was talking crap, that much was clear. I needed to change the topic.

The book also dealt with more serious issues, such as that of prostitution and the abuse of, and danger to, the women who provide that service, usually by their procurers. Prostitution is legal in Germany, and Sister Marlene made a point that I think makes a lot of sense: It is a service that, as a devout Christian, I disapprove of. If I believed that prostitution could be done away with, I would fight for that. But that’s completely implausible. Her point was put this way: How do prostitutes make their living? From their customer. If there were no customers, there would be no prostitution. There are estimates that up to twenty percent (sic) of the adult male population has made use of sexual services. Sister Marlene is part of an order of nuns that specifically relate themselves to Mary Magdalene, so her ideas and attitude are not quite as surprising as they could be. I think it makes a lot of sense – the fact that prostitution is illegal in the USA is a ridiculous and hypocritical situation; the women who provide these services deserve the same sort of protection under the law as any person that works to provide a service. Also, as Pascha says, As long as women withhold sex as an instrument of power, there will be [prostitutes]. (alternate wording to avoid ToS issues on Amazon when posting this review). I think Sister Marlene said it best: Prostitution is indispensable in a society like ours. Even useful, because it prevents sexual violence [like rape] against women under certain circumstances. That’s why it’s one-sided and thus completely misguided to ostracize the women but not their customers.

All very good points, and ones that I hope someday will be taken to heart all around the world.

I had a pretty good idea as to “whodunit,” and I was right, but untangling the web was delightful. I particularly enjoyed how Pascha and Sister Marlene messed with the villain in crazy-making style. Beautifully done and very fun.

There are a few more books in this series already published in Germany, from my understanding, and I will definitely be watching for more books about Pascha and Martin from the delightful and entertaining Ms. Profijt. You should be too, if you enjoy forensic mysteries and ghost stories! Highly recommended.

Book Info: Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Expected publication: book available 7/17/12

Disclosure: I received a free ARC galley paperback copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. This review can also be seen on my blog, Now is Gone, part of blogspot.

Synopsis: Life and death are not so black and white at the city morgue in Cologne, Germany. There, Dr. Martin Gänsewein spends his days autopsying dead bodies—and conversing with a ghost named Pascha. They are an odd couple, to be sure: a shy, scrupulous forensic pathologist and a gregarious former car thief whose murder Martin reluctantly helped solve in Morgue Drawer Four.

As the second installment of Jutta Profijt’s popular series opens, a recently convalesced Martin returns to work anxious for a little peace and quiet and hoping that Pascha has finally gone into the light. Not only is the doctor out of luck, but the morgue soon welcomes Marlene, the spirit of a nun killed in the fire that ravaged her medieval convent and home.

Though disappointed that his new sidekick isn’t a leggy blonde, Pascha empathizes with the recently deceased holy sister—and suspects the fire that claimed her life was no accident. The ghosts are determined to uncover the truth, but they can’t do it without Martin’s help. Together with Martin’s girlfriend Birgit, the trio embarks upon a madcap (and frequently hilarious) adventure that will enchant readers from beginning to end.

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