Stacey was just trying to live her best life. Now, she’s dead, but her ghost can’t move on because her “accident” was actually a murder. 12 Steps To A Long And Fulfilling Death is the new ghost story-slash-murder mystery by Sarah Smith, kindly sent to me for review by Ultimo Press.

I’ve got to say, I love the concept of a ghost having an existential crisis. It takes Stacey a while to cop to the fact that she’s dead, and once she does, she’s forced to contend with a lot of the stuff she’d been avoiding in life. Her relationship with her fiance was on the rocks, her friends all made her feel like shit in various ways, her ex was a controlling stalker, and her therapist really sucked at his job.

So, when you think about it, plenty of people had motive to murder Stacey. Her shiny Los Angeles life had a lot of resentment lurking beneath the surface. Over the course of 12 Steps To A Long And Fulfilling Death, she follows the detectives investigating her case, and picks apart where it all went wrong – and who was ultimately responsible.

The timeline is a bit tricky to follow; Stacey’s pre-death recollections and post-death revelations get muddled at times. Some avenues are opened up then barely explored (e.g., the relationship between Stacey’s parents). Some plot points are brought up and then seemingly forgotten about for far too long (e.g., “the Intruders”). The ending was fairly easy to spot coming, but you get yanked back and forth on your way there.

12 Steps To A Long And Fulfilling Death has a great concept and a fantastic cast of everyone-sucks-here characters, but the jerky pacing and predictable outcomes made for an uneven reading experience.

Buy 12 Steps To A Long And Fulfilling Death here. (affiliate link)