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Publisher's Summary

Suspense with a surprise that makes it all the more delightful to visit Chicago in the 1960s

Leo appears to be just another downtown bum, but he and Libby, Memnet, and Roy share a secret that requires constant vigilance. They live off the grid in the basement of an almost forgotten museum and survive mostly by committing petty crimes. (Roy likes to steal root beer and cake.)

Each of them has gifts for surviving; each has weaknesses, as well. They make it through each day by working together and trusting each other. Major changes happen when they meet Jake, an orphan who witnessed a murder.

The killers come after the girl, and the four adults see no choice but to take her "home" with them. Soon, they're all targets, and Chicago streets are a constant danger. The squatters know they should leave the museum and create new lives, but with secrets they can't reveal, where can they go? How will they live?

With great suspense and gentle humor, the "family" lies their way to becoming respectable, yet anonymous, citizens. Once they have a new home (and after a stunning plot twist), an uneasy peace settles in. Maybe things will work out. But peace is fragile, and bad guys don't just give up.

In the end, Leo and friends must face a band of killers in order to save themselves and prevent an American tragedy. If they succeed, it will be partly due to help from a green FBI agent but mostly because of their determination to protect each other. After all, they're not dead yet....

©2013 Peg Herring (P)2018 Peg Herring

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not dead yet

I was engaged immediately, drawn into the story and intertwining characters, my curiosity piqued - exactly what I want in the start of a relationship with a book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story with a cool twist.

This novel mixes a creative mystery story line with a unique twist. The main characters are likable and well developed; each has their own quirks and strengths (and this makes more sense when you learn what big secret they share).

The narration was good. Becky Boyd helped make the characters come alive by giving each one their own "voice"....and she has a talent for accents.

If you are looking for a step up from the usual "cozy mystery" into something that has more action and adventure but without gory details, then you should definitely try this novel.

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Eclectic characters

Fun to hear the various voices and accents, some of which were difficult for me to hear or understand. Please be aware of my own limitations as I am hard of hearing, so don't let that stop you. An unusual group of characters. I don't want to explain too much about them as that is an intriguing part of the story. Not a fan of criminal behavior so I had difficulty initially. The ending was fast and fun.

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A Unique Trip

In <strong>Not Dead Yet. . .</strong> by Peg Herring, a group of four transients have made a home in the basement of the Schmidt Museum in Chicago between 1965 and 1967. Libby, an older British woman; Leo, an older Italian man; Memnet, a young Egyptian woman; and Roy, an American cowboy were brought to this museum by Norman, the eccentric scientist head curator of the museum and who was killed in a fall down the stairs soon after they arrived there. Together the foursome support each other with petty crime and Memnet's playing music on a lute at the train station. They have installed a secret passage to get into the museum and a hidden room in which to secrete themselves in the event that someone comes to their unused storage room.

Then one day, Memnet gets approached by a homeless girl but is too afraid of the girl to talk to her. But the girl keeps lingering around the museum, so Roy takes an opportunity to confront her but scares the girl away. However, he runs into the girl soon after in a park where she has been sleeping. Since the girl left her bag under the bush where she had slept, the group of four decides to go to the park and wait for her to return. But just as the girl starts to approach, the group sees a pair of men roughing up a third man. When the third man escapes from the pair, one takes out a gun and kills the third. The girl walks up and promptly faints. Their protective instincts kicking in, Leo and Roy attack the men to keep the girl safe, and, using their wits, the duo succeeds in knocking out the criminals. They take the still unconscious girl back to their museum, which is how the newly orphaned 14-year-old Jake joins their group.

Though the group members keep their eyes out for news of the murdered man, there is nothing about him anywhere. Then they spot the man with the gun and hurry to move outside of their local community. But they soon learn that the man with the gun is a high ranking agent of the FBI. They have to keep away from him while starting a new life in their new home as a family unit. Their deductions cause them to fear that something sinister is about to happen. But how could this group of misfits stop that?

Despite my initial concerns about whether <strong>Not Dead Yet. . .</strong> would suit me, Peg Herring, who knows my taste in books, encouraged me to give her book a try, and I am glad she did. It worked well to have set the book in 1967, and the slang from that era gives it authenticity. Each slang term is given in context enough to help us understand the meaning even if we haven't run across the word before ourselves. The book really contains three mysteries: What happened to the murdered man? What is the truth about how this disparate group of people came to be together in the museum? And what do the murderers have in plan for the future? These questions, as seen through the eyes of Jake, draw us further into the story.

I enjoyed the characters in this book. Each of the four transient characters has unique features to her or his own nature. Libby, imperious and proper, has become the chef and strict grandmother figure. Leo, intelligent and creative, repairs everything and has become the kind grandfather figure. Roy, impetuous and independent, takes care of stealing all their necessities to provide for the group. Memnet, timid and nervous of new experiences, grows in courage and strength through her relationship with Jake. In addition, Jake shows deep intelligence and a great love of reading, ultimately helping her new family in their darkest hour.

Becky Boyd performs the audio edition of this book. I enjoyed her performance as she portrays the unique characters in this book, to each of whom she gives flavor so that we see the differences in the nature of each individual. I appreciated the voices she uses for each, including doing an excellent job with the accents of each, British, Italian, Egyptian, Western American, and general American. With good expression that drives the narrative, Boyd makes the book all the more lively.

<strong>Not Dead Yet. . .</strong> turned out to be an unusual, quirky mystery with a surprise twist halfway through the book. The details of a man's having been murdered without his body's being discovered and the way the murderers chase after the artificial family starts off interesting. Then the conclusion becomes exciting and dramatic, and we see real growth in the lives of the five friends. I enjoyed this book and give it four stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this audiobook from the author, but that had no impact upon the content of my review.