rogue rhetoric

random musings by michael d. durkota

Book Review: The Bride Wore Dead by EM Kaplan

I was engrossed within the first few pages. The story, the character, the dialogue, and Kaplan’s balanced and witty prose were quickly addictive. I am rarely guilty of binge reading; I generally read slowly and I stick to a fairly strict regime of reading for thirty minutes to an hour each day. That said, The Bride Wore Dead wrecked my daily routine. I didn’t want to wrap presents anyway, so it was a joyful distraction.bride-wore-dead

Josie Tucker is a quintessential protagonist. She is cynical and savvy. She is flawed but self-aware. She is highly skilled in many ways, yet humble. Taken out of her quiet, reclusive comfort-zone she stumbles and makes mistakes, but manages to find her way. The unplanned desert expedition is allegorical; I read it so fast and feverishly the first time through that I had to go back and re-read it after I caught my breath. There is so much depth to the character and her story that I may have to go back and re-read from page one. When you see references to Immanuel Kant, Holden Caulfield, and bodhisattvas it’s difficult to resist digging deeper.

I delighted in several moments, character descriptions, and subtle ironies, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • “The Latin incantations reminded her of a horror movie…” [Passage describing a wedding]
  • “Greta Williams seemed like a person who rarely, if ever, was pleased about how things were going.”
  • “Josie brimmed with fermented good wishes.”
  • “A few drops of red wine stained the place in front of her, the red liquid spreading through the cloth so that she could see the crisscross pattern of the fibers.”
  • “You paged me this morning at 4:30. You said you were dying and you told me to bring a priest.”
  • “His silver crew cut hinted at a former police or military career or the desire to have had one.”
  • “The pleated skirt and tight sweater might still fit, but there was something indecent about her world outlook.”
  • “He shot her a look that made her feel like she’d forgotten some of her clothing. Like her shirt.”
  • “Other than the beatings, and the anxiety, I enjoyed myself. For the most part.”

Bottom line: The Bride Wore Dead is an enthralling mystery fueled by an extraordinary heroine. I’m looking forward to the second in the series, Dim Sum, Dead Some.

Follow EM Kaplan on twitter and check out her blog, Just The EM Words.


  1. hello I love the header of your blog, it is a personal creation?

    • Mike D

      April 17, 2016 at 18:57

      They rotate. Most of them are from the marketing materials for my book. Glad you like it.

  2. Mike D

    May 29, 2016 at 11:29


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