I know it took me a long time to produce a follow-up to my Mystery Monday #1: Secondhand Spirits post and I apologize for that. But here’s post no. 2 and hope you’ll like it as much as you did post. no. 1. 🙂
The first novel in this “hauntingly good” cozy mystery series by the hubby and wife writing tandem of Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi, under the pen name Alice Kimberly, has introduced us to Penelope “Pen” Thornton-McClure, co-owner of Buy the Book, a quaint bookstore in an even quainter town of Quindicott, Rhode Island. Pen is a single mom eager to make a new life for her and her seven-year old son Spencer back in her hometown after witnessing her husband’s suicide and leaving her publishing job in NYC and her late husband’s elitist family.
But going back to Quindicott is no picnic in the park. The bookstore needed immediate renovations and inventory problems that had to be sorted. Without much hesitation, Pen cashed in her late husband’s life insurance policy to breathe new life into the bookshop that has been in her family for years. Pen also bought and annexed the “cursed” establishment next door making Buy the Book twice as big with enough room for book-related events that could house a sizable crowd.
And it was during the first affair organized by Pen that the mystery started. Timothy Brennan, author of the famed Jack Shield series, chose Buy the Book as the first stop in his Shield of Justice book tour. It was a calculated move as the spot where Buy the Book’s community center is located was the site of the unsolved murder case involving Jack Shepard, the real life hard-boiled detective for whom the Jack Shield books are modeled after. Tim Brennan had known the real Jack back when he was still a reporter and he wanted to cash in on that notoriety. But Jack Shepard the ghost was not happy. Yup. The infamous PI has been trapped in the premises of the bookstore since 1949 when his life was unfortunately snuffed out before he could crack the case he promised his friend he would solve. Quite baffling how only Pen could hear him in her thoughts even though he had played pranks with the construction workers as the bookstore renovations were going on. What started as a getting-to-know-you between our heroine and our ghostly gumshoe quickly became an unlikely partnership in solving the murder case of Tim Brennan’s untimely demise while promoting his latest opus.
I like it. I like how the book was able to make me feel part of that darling Rhode Island community. Alice Kimberly was keen on painting vivid details so it was quite easy to picture myself going around Buy the Book and the other locations. Unlike other cozies when it was the main character who’s responsible for solving the crime, with the Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series, it’s actually a ghost who aids and ultimately solves the mysteries (I’m on to the third book now). So this kind of premise requires a suspension of belief on the reader’s part for him/her to accept certain circumstances like how Jack and Pen are able to communicate telepathically even if Pen acknowledged herself to be a skeptic about things psychical. But I’m rather imaginative so it wasn’t that hard to believe how a ghost could interact with the living in that singularly peculiar manner.
The only stumbling block maybe for me was Jack’s language that hailed all the way from the 1940’s Americana. English is not my native tongue so I consulted the Kindle Touch’s built-in dictionary more than a few times in order to better understand the context. Some of the slang weren’t even decipherable. But other than that, the book was really fun. The relationship between the MC and the secondary characters were hilariously charming. I sure want to feel that camaraderie again in the next books as I’m planning to read them. But what sold me in on the series is my burning curiosity as to what will become of Jack as the story progresses. Will the mystery behind his death be solved? Or will he remain an immaterial entity longing to have a slice of life that was inopportunely snatched from him? Maybe it’s kind of creepy how I think he and Pen could have something going on but I’m a romantic at heart so I’m hoping (and I’m crossing my fingers on this one) the authors would be able to provide something to satiate my wants for a hot romance between the lovable single mom and the supernatural investigator.
P.S. Read my review of the second book in this series – The Ghost and the Dead Deb on BookTrib:
Mystery Monday Logo and Art © The Traveling Reader, 2011. Book cover image © Alice Kimberly and Berkley Prime Crime, New York.
Alice Kimberly is the pseudonym employed by the popular writing couple Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi in penning The Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series. They pair also go by Cleo Coyle in writing the very popular Coffehouse Mystery Series.
You can find out more about this book and the rest of the series on:
Series Info – Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series
Author’s Website – http://www.coffeehousemystery.com/cleos_haunted_bookshop.cfm
Author’s Blog (with other mystery authors) – http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/
Twitter – @CleoCoyle
Goodreads – Alice Kimberly on Goodreads