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.