What’s not to like in this book? An all male cast filled with one dimensional stereotypes. A major failing of the Bechdel test. A serial killer sub-plot that goes nowhere. An evil house that does nothing. A story about evil where the only person who dies is a suicide, and that’s on page one. A story about a ghost where the ghost who finally shows up just wants to have sex…but “off screen,” of course. Wouldn’t want anything to actually happen in this book, would we?
In a book of dull and offensive characters, only Mark Underhill stands out as a decently memorable person. His uncle is a “famous writer,” which means he needs no other personality traits, ever. His father Phillip is a walking steroetype of a racist and msyogonist who can’t stop thinking of himself longer than five minutes. There’s the stereotypical tough talking cop, the plot device super-private detective friend, in case Tim the famous writer needs an answer without actually performing any investigative work, the over confident but really stupid rich white male serial killer in his thirties, Mark’s best buddy Jimbo, and Jimbo’s equally annoying drunk dad, Jackie.
There are only two female characters who have more than a scene or two of dialogue, one of whom commits suicide, Mark’s mother. She rarely talks in the flashbacks, and her presence in the book, even in flashbacks, serves no useful purpose. The other female bit character, Jimbo’s mother, serves as a sex symbol for Mark, and a sidekick for grilling Jimbo with Tim. She coos and says nice things to Mark, and then when Tim needs Jimbo too talk, she wags her finger sternly and repeats the same lines over and over: “Now Jim, you tell Mr. Underhill everything you know!” But otherwise she stays barefoot and in the kitchen like a good little woman. There is also supposed to be a female ghost, but she is only mentioned in passing…having sex with one of the guys.