Dead, actually by Kaz Delaney

cover image

Bolinda, 6 CD's, 7 hrs, 36 mins. ISBN 9781743154878. (Allen and Unwin, 2012.)
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Humour, Death. Leaving work at a fast food joint late one night, Willow, the only daughter of two hapless but well heeled hippies turned lately to God, happens upon a car accident, in which JoJo, the top A-lister at school, is killed. At the funeral Willow receives unwanted overtures of friendship from JoJo's friends and ex boyfriends, so knows something is very wrong. Willow and her friend Macey despise JoJo and her friends for their shallowness and vanity, epitomised by the over the top funeral. But when Jo-Jo's ghost appears in her room, telling her that she must find out who murdered her, Willow is floored, and despite her disinclination to help JoJo she does not want this apparition living in her bedroom for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
There follows a truly funny modern ghost story, a crime thriller with a light touch of romance. Willow and Macey seek to find out just what is behind JoJo's idea that she has been murdered, and when Macey's brother, Seth, admits he was being blackmailed by JoJo, their investigations widen.
The three go to JoJo's wake with some misgivings, and carefully observe and question some of the leading contenders for the role of murderer. At home Willow is trying to protect her parents from a conman who is attempting to take their money, a situation fitting with the wealthy but sleazy Gold Coast community. Seth the boy Willow lusts after, suggests that they just pretend to be a couple, to continue their clandestine observations of JoJo's friends. and things move along to a funny climax combining all the themes.
All told with the tongue firmly in a cheek, the A-list girls' behaviour is neatly expressed, their wealthy and vacuous lifestyle presented in a way which will cause listeners to laugh out loud.
This audio edition presented by Bolinda makes easy listening. Dana Kronental's voice is light, youthful and fresh, giving an empathy to Willow's dilemma, while adding lustre to the range of people in the background. Her voice takes on the shallowness of JoJo and her companions, the almost nerdiness of Willow and her friends, the longing in Willow's voice when she speaks to Seth, the absolute loathing Willow has for the man in her parents' lives. Each voice is recognisably different.
This is an inviting audio production of a wonderfully funny book, one which could be well used in classrooms where this book or others like it are to be studied, or a unit on modern images of women in the media, or just as a series of CD's to listen to at home.
Fran Knight