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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Laugh Out Dead by Rupert Harker is the first book in the Urban-Smith Cozy Mystery series. Forensic pathologist Rupert Harker meets paranormal detective Fairfax Urban-Smith and his life is never the same again. Through their new partnership, Rupert is introduced to the paranormal when he meets people that Fairfax calls 'sensitives' and that have experienced ghostly encounters. Rupert is skeptical of the existence of the paranormal, but when he dives further into investigating a death, he may just become a believer. The case brings Russian paramilitaries, ex-KGB scientists, and dangerous assassins after the duo who must stay a step ahead before they’re next.
Rupert Harker weaves in elements of Sherlock Holmes through the character of Fairfax Urban-Smith in the way he speaks, his personality, mannerisms, and even in the way he treats Rupert, which is reminiscent of how Holmes treats Watson. He even has moments where he expounds on how he came to a conclusion about someone or something, which is a trait well-known to Sherlock Holmes. Harker puts a fresh spin on the procedural with the paranormal elements which are explored through the perspective of someone who is skeptical of it all. Rupert and Fairfax have a delightful back and forth with witty banter that keeps the story light and drives the humor. Harker blends action-packed moments and investigative scenes with autopsies and sleuthing, paranormal intrigue and humorous chases.
The other characters are just as delightful with Gadget (gad-jay), taxi drivers, and others that help Rupert and Fairfax throughout their investigation. Rupert gets some romance when he meets Nell who ends up working alongside him, which leads the story in a new turn of events. Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, funny mysteries, and paranormal detectives, Laugh Out Dead is a humorous story with zany characters, a smart mystery, and a quick wit that has clear fun channeling Holmes.