Review: The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion by Alice Kimberly

Ghost and the Haunted Mansion, theThe Ghost and the Haunted Mansion
Alice Kimberly
Berkley, 304 pages
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I don’t know what the prices of homes for sale in Alice Kimberly’s fictional Quindicott, RI are like, but considering the number of murders in that town, I bet they’re falling. The most recent death occurs in the most recent – to date – novel in the Haunted Bookshop series, and involves an old woman who lives as a recluse being literally scared to death. Local mailmain Seymour Tarnish inherits the woman’s mansion – in the toniest part of town, of course – and that’s when the real hijinks begin.

Pen and her ghostly partner, private investigator Jack Shepard are back on the case of course, though their relationship is a bit cooler than it was in the previous novel. Maybe the author figured out she’d painted herself into a corner with these two, or maybe she merely wanted to focus on plot, but I like them better as a mismatched pair who fight crime, than lovers separated by death…mostly. Of course, some of that coolness may be due to the fact that one of the other characters can SEE and HEAR Jack.

Speaking of Jack, can you believe it’s taken me this long to figure out he’s got the same name as the ersatz leader of the LOSTaways? I wonder if that’s intentional, or mere coincidence – of course there is a spelling difference.

In any case, this was, as always, an enjoyable, entertaining read, if not exactly great literature.

My only complaint? There’s no more of this series…yet.

Review: The Ghost and the Femme Fatale

The Ghost and the Femme Fatale
The Ghost and the Femme Fatale
by Alice Kimberly
Berkley, 235 pages
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In the fourth installment of the Haunted Bookshop mysteries, The Ghost and the Femme Fatale, Pen McClure and the ghost of Jack Shepherd are once again teamed up to solve a mystery, this time, a multiple murder centered around old Hollywood, a film festival, and (of course) a tell all book about the sordid history of two actors. I don’t like rehashing plots, especially with mysteries, because even the smallest detail can be a spoiler, but I will say that the Jack/Pen relationship in this one moves into new territory – and I don’t mean HAVC filter maintenance – I’m a bit worried, actually, about where this relationship can go, and how Ms. Kimberly plans to address it, or if she does. Fantasy is nice, after all, but eventually Pen’s going to have to live entirely in the world of the, well, living.

Still, the detective duo works. In the dreamscape representation of Jack’s past, he begins to accept her help, and in the modern waking world, Pen is becoming more and more self-reliant, with Jack’s involvement reduced to cheering her on in more than once scene.

It’s refreshing to see Pen, the woman who still uses her dead husband’s name, standing more on her own feet, and even if the mysteries are sort of predictable, the ghost and Mrs. McClure remain compelling.

A word of advice, though: Never fall for a ghost.

Mini-Review: The Ghost and the Dead Deb

Ghost and Dead Deb
The Ghost and the Dead Deb
by Alice Kimberly
Berkley, 272 Pages
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Reading about dead debutante’s is not exactly the way to lose weight fast. I mean, skinny rich girls, even when they’re corpses, are hardly good role models. Fortunately, I don’t read Alice Kimberly’s haunted bookshop novels for fitness inspiration, but to be entertained, and this book succeeded wildly in its humble mission.

In this, the third outing for Penelope McClure and the ghost of Jack Shepherd, we have drug abuse, fickle lovers, fashionistas, and, of course, a mystery of how one pretty rich girl became the latest in a pair of connected murders.

As always, while the mystery is enjoyable, the developing Jack/Pen relationship is why I read, and in this installment the friendship between ghost and bookseller continues to deepen.

Am I the only person wishing a haunted bookshop was in my neighborhood?

Review: The Ghost and the Dead Deb by Alice Kimberly

The Ghost and the Dead Deb
The Ghost and the Dead Deb
Author: Alice Kimberly
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Berkley (September 6, 2005)
Language: English

Penelope “Pen” McClure, co-owner of the fictional “Buy the Book” in Quindicott, RI, should really consider investing in some sort of business insurance, because in this second installment of the Haunted Bookshop series, another visiting author is murdered.

Alice Kimberly once again weaves a charming romance/mystery pairing Pen with Jack Shepherd, the ghost of a noir private investigator, who himself was gunned down in the store decades before. In this book, we learn a bit more about Pen, and, in the related case from Jack’s memory, we also learn a bit more about Jack.

Young deb-turned-author Angel Stark could easily be ripped by any number of today’s tabloids, but the recurring characters are also as vivid as they were in the first novel – especially the group of business owners affectionately referred to as the Quibblers (which name, I confess, reminds me of another fictional mystery series, Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who…).

What really makes this book sing, however, is the developing relationship between Pen and Jack – they’re clearly friends now – which is heightened when Pen finds a way to take Jack with her (so to speak) when she leaves the store.

Goes well with hot tea and a warm quilt.