Monday, January 26, 2009

The Ghost And The Haunted Mansion - Alice Kimberly

The Ghost And The Haunted Mansion
A Haunted Bookshop Mystery
Alice Kimberly
Berkley Prime Crime


Penelope (Pen) Thornton-McClure owns a mystery bookshop in the small town of Quindicott, Rhode Island. Jack Shepard lives in the shop, in a manner of speaking. As a PI in the 1940s, he was working a case when he was gunned down in the shop. Now his ghost resides there, speaking only to Pen. Together, the two have been pretty good at solving local murders.

During a normal single-working-mom morning of running rushed errands for both her son and her business, Pen very nearly runs down a pedestrian. She was on her way to make a monthly delivery of books to Miss Todd, an elderly shut-in who lives in one of the largest mansions in town. The pedestrian, who kept right on running as he crossed the street, was clearly Seymour Tarnish, the town’s letter carrier. Arriving at Miss Todd’s, Pen discovers that the door is open. Entering the house, she finds Miss Todd on the floor, murdered. The look on the dead woman’s face is one of terror.

The local chief of police seems more than willing to pin the whole thing on Seymour, given his recent presence at Miss Todd’s, and his hasty exit. Pen knows Seymour and is convinced that he could not have done it. Things begin to look worse for Seymour when it turns out that Miss Todd left him the mansion. And apparently, the mansion comes with a few unwelcome inhabitants. Too bad Jack can’t talk to other ghosts.

Jack and Pen have an interesting friendship and working relationship; their personalities complement each other very nicely. Each installment of the series (THE GHOST AND THE DEAD MAN’S LIBRARY, THE GHOST AND THE FEMME FATALE) includes not only a present-day mystery, but also flashbacks to Jack’s days as a tough-talking PI, hustling to make a buck. The mix of a cozy mystery with the ghost of a hardboiled NY private eye seems like an odd one, but it works wonderfully well. The mystery here is constructed very well and delves into the history of the town and various characters, utilizing them to great effect. As usual, the highlight is Jack, making sarcastic quips that only Pen can hear. I hope for many more installments in this series.

Rating: 7 ½
January 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22460-1 (paperback


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