Review: A New Lease on Death by Olivia Blacke

Posted June 24, 2024 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Fantasy/High Fantasy / 0 Comments

Review:  A New Lease on Death by Olivia BlackeA New Lease on Death (Supernatural Mysteries, #1) by Olivia Blacke
Series: Supernatural Mysteries #1
Published by Minotaur Books on October 29, 2024
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
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I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

In this darkly funny supernatural mystery about an unlikely crime-solving duo that launches a commercial, unique, and genre-blending series, death is only the beginning.
Ruby Young's new Boston apartment comes with all the usual perks. Windows facing the brick wall of the next-door building. Heat that barely works. A malfunctioning buzzer. Noisy neighbors. A dead body on the sidewalk outside. And of course, a ghost.
Since Cordelia Graves died in her apartment a few months ago, she's kept up her residency, despite being bored out of her (non-tangible) skull and frustrated by her new roommate. When her across-the-hall neighbor, Jake Macintyre, is shot and killed in an apparent mugging gone wrong outside their building, Cordelia is convinced there’s more to it and is determined to bring his killer to justice.
Unfortunately, Cordelia, being dead herself, can't solve the mystery alone. She has to enlist the help of the obnoxiously perky, living tenant of her apartment. Ruby is twenty, annoying, and has never met a houseplant she couldn't kill. But she also can do everything Cordelia can't, from interviewing suspects to researching Jake on the library computers that go up in a puff of smoke if Cordelia gets too close. The roommates form an unlikely friendship as they get closer to the truth about Jake's death…and maybe other dangerous secrets as well.


An interesting mystery with an unlikely pair of amateur sleuths.

Ruby Young was just trying to put some space between herself and her cheating ex by moving to Boston from Maryland, figuring the distance would keep her from breaking down and taking his cheating butt back. Most twenty year olds don’t have vast bank accounts, so of course when a fully furnished apartment was offered to her she didn’t ask too many questions–such as why someone left behind all their furniture, and their books,…and their clothes? A google search showed that the prior owner, Cordelia Graves, died in the apartment a few months ago. Apparently, that tidbit of information dissuaded all takers but the really desperate–which Ruby certainly was but she has also always has a positive outlook on life. Except, Ruby does notice odd things going on in her apartment, such as ‘Who put out that outfit for her upcoming job interview?’ since it certainly wasn’t her.

Instead of being freaked out about the idea of a haunted apartment, Ruby is excited to get to know her ghostly roommate. A ghostly roommate would be cool, except Ruby hopes she isn’t being watched while she undresses, although she does notice that she doesn’t feel Cordelia’s presence whenever she goes into the bathroom–probably has to do with the whole found dead in the bathtub thing.

Cordelia liked having her own quiet space. She never invited anyone over…ever! Now she is has this energizer bunny, who never stops talking, even to herself. They are the polar opposites but she is finding Ruby to be growing on her, even if she has systemically killed all of Cordelia’s houseplants.

When their across-the-hall neighbor turns up dead outside of their building, and the cops quickly write it off as a mugging gone bad. Cordelia is certain there was no mugging and wants to figure out who killed Jake. She desperately tries to get Ruby’s attention and her help since being alive would make asking questions so much easier.

I really enjoyed Ruby and Cordelia trying to work out a friendship between them even with the whole you’re alive and I’m dead thing. Ruby begins to figure out when she can feel Cordelia near her but they can’t speak to each other thing.

Cordelia was in her 40’s when she died, something she thankfully can’t remember. As we learn about Cordelia throughout the story, we find that while Cordelia was older than Ruby, she no more has her life together than young Ruby. Cordelia had a hard life growing up, part of why she likes her own private space, but she makes more than her fair share of grown up mistakes.

Ruby is perky and bubbly and didn’t think the whole ‘let’s move far away from her cheating ex-boyfriend’ thing through too well as she has no job, no warm clothes for the winter and very little money left. It is Cordelia that suggests that Ruby apply for a job at Cordelia’s former company so she can go crazy and buy food and heat and other fun stuff so she can stay alive.

This is the second story I have read recently which involved ghosts communicating by way of magnetic poetry but as Ruby points out, it is not a great system unless they plan to drag the fridge with them whenever they go out. I liked that while both were frustrated, they keep trying to figure out their communication issues.

There is definitely going to be a second story and I foresee some of the happenings in this story shining a light on how they can communicate in the future. There is also a lot of sketchy information about Cordelia’s death which need to be addressed and which wasn’t…yet. I am absolutely looking forward to more Ruby and Cordelia.

Favorite Scene:

Here it was, actual proof positive that I wasn’t alone in this apartment.  It was about time that me and Cordelia Graves were formally introduced. And if I was wrong, and I was talking to thin air? Well, no one would ever know, now would they? “Where did these come from?” I asked, hoping for a response, any response.

When there was none, I shook my head. Was I imagining things? It wasn’t possible that I’d laid that sweater out by accident and then forgotten. Sure I did things on autopilot sometimes–who didn’t–but that wasn’t something I would do. Then again, a spontaneous four-hundred-mile move to a city I’d never even visited, without a job or a single friend, just so I could “start over” didn’t seem much like something I would do either, and I’d done exactly that.

I tossed the outfit in the dirty clothes hamper so I didn’t have to look at that sweater anymore, then I took a good hard look around my room. Nothing else was out of place. There were no unexplained shadows or strange movements out of the corner of my eye. But I knew down to the tattered sides of my favorite unicorn slippers that I wasn’t alone.

“Cordelia? Cordelia Graves?” My voice sounded high-pitched and squeaky like it always did when I got overexcited. Which, according to my mom, was pretty much all the time. But could you blame me? This was by far the single most coolest thing that had ever happened to me, and I’d once found a megalodon tooth on a Maryland beach. “Come on, I know you’re there. Show yourself.”

My request was met with total silence. Nothing. Nada. Not even the flutter of curtains. I looked around, hoping I could catch a glimpse of the apartment’s former occupant. Was she happy I knew she was there? Scared? Upset? There was nothing to see, nothing to hear.

When I looked down, the green sweater was back, laid out neatly on the bed. I could barely contain myself. There really was a ghost in my apartment. It wasn’t just my overactive imagination.

I still wasn’t putting on that sweater.

“Wow. Okay, you really are here. But I’m not gonna wear that, no matter how hard you try.” I held it up. “See what that color does to my skin? And it’s at least a size too small.” I balled up the sweater and shoved it under my bed with my foot.

“My boyfriend, Jerkface, cheated on me,” I confessed out loud.   I didn’t know why I admitted that. I hadn’t told anyone why we broke up, not even my mom or my sisters. I was too embarrassed. Everyone had warned me that Jeffrey was bad news, and I didn’t want to admit that I’d gotten duped. I knew I was far too trusting, but he’d seemed so sincere. A ghost wouldn’t judge my bad decisions. “That was her sweater. The girl he was cheating on me with. Now you see why I can’t wear it.”

Dressed now, I glanced at the clock on my phone. I was going to be late for my interview. I was dragging my feet on purpose. The interview was at a call center. It wasn’t the worst job I’d applied for. It wouldn’t even be the worst job I’d ever had before. At least it was an in-bound call center, so I didn’t have to call anyone and have them curse me out before hanging up on me.

Thank goodness for cell phone spam filters and Millennials who never answered their phones because in a few years, cold calls might finally become obsolete. Until then, the robocallers would keep trying to get in touch with me about my car’s expiring warranty. Joke’s on them. I didn’t even have a car. Not anymore.

I didn’t have time to enjoy the rest of my coffee, but there was no way I was leaving home without it. I riffled through the kitchen cabinets in the dark, grabbed a travel thermos, and dumped the rest of my mug into it, topping it off with what was left in the pot. I preferred my coffee sweet and light, but since I couldn’t exactly afford sugar and cream right now, I’d take what I could get. Thermos capped, I unplugged the coffee maker before pulling the filter out. How many days had I reused this filter and beans? Two? Maybe three? Considering the murky light brown color of the coffee in the pot and the fact that the filter all but disintegrated when I touched it, it might have been more.

It was times like this I missed home the most. It wasn’t just that there was always fresh coffee, but there was always someone to drink it with. Between my mom, my sisters, all the nearby aunts and uncles, and a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone, I was never alone. I didn’t appreciate that until after I’d moved away.

Although I was tempted to try to stretch one more day out of the coffee grounds, I knew I had to let it go. I opened the trash can to dump the filter, and there, on the top of the trash, was the puke green sweater I’d kicked under my bed. I chuckled to myself. Living in a haunted apartment apparently had its upsides. “Thanks, Cordelia,” I said out loud to my ghostly roomie as I dumped the coffee grounds. “I knew you’d understand.”

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