For a brief time I tried using Amazon as an online way to keep track of what books I owned and get recommendations. The enterprise failed because the only books I marked were those I stumbled upon while browsing, and because the recommendations didn’t always make sense. (Surely if I liked the Penguin edition of A Tale of Two Cities I would like to try the Dover and Signet versions as well; the outcome of the revolution is startlingly different, I hear. Thankfully LibraryThing avoids this downfall). I did manage to write down some promising titles at that time, however, one of which was The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly.
To help get over the suicide of her rich, good-for-nothing husband, Penelope Thorton-McClure move’s to Rhode Island to help at her Aunt Sadie’s struggling bookstore. Their fortunes seem to turn when they book a signing by bestselling crime author Timothy Brennan, whose inspiration is a PI killed over fifty years ago on the premises. History repeats itself tonight, however, when Brennan drops dead in the middle of his speech. As business suddenly flourishes Pen and Sadie find themselves prime suspects. Luckily the ghost of Jack Shield himself shows up to set Pen on the track of other suspicious behavior.
I have a hard time finding cozy mystery series I like enough to stick with, but I’m willing to at least try the next one in the series. Alice Kimberly has created an interesting scenario with the two main characters, who alternate narration. Pen is a scaredy-cat who is clueless about real-life mysteries, involved only to clear her aunt. Jack, on the other hand, has expertise but is bound to the bookshop and limited by his incorporeal form. He rarely reveals himself, communicating with Pen in her mind. Their shaky relationship soon takes hold as Pen adjusts to his presence and proves an excellent pupil.
The mystery itself was not the best, but there is much potential. I’m curious as to how Jack will fare in crimes occurring beyond his scope of observation, and if he will ever get retribution for the incidents surrounding his own demise. He comes off sometimes as a Sam Spade wanna-be rather than truly hard-boiled, but it’s still a nice mix for a modern series.