Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly

This is the fourth in the haunted bookstore series. Penelope McClure co-owns a bookstore with her Aunt Sadie, Buy the Book, which specializes in mysteries. Jack Shephard is a former private investigator who has hung up his license in order to haunt Mrs. McClure's bookstore. Actually, he doesn't have a choice because he was killed years ago where bookstore now stands. To pass his time, he torments people. Penny is his favorite person to torment, especially the fact that she can hear him and, now that she found his old Buffalo nickel, he can leave the bookstore and go with her on cases.

In this case, the town of Quindicott, Rhode Island, is having a film noir festival. Everything is going along swimmingly until opening night when a speaker falls down and almost kills Hedda Geist, b-movie bombshell. Then the next day, an author is killed before the lecture/signing she's supposed to give. The authorities rule it as an accident, but Pen and Jack disagree. So do the three bodies which follow the author's death. With Jack's guidance and flashbacks, Pen solves the case.

What's so interesting is Kimberly is actually Cleo Coyle who has another series out dealing with a coffee house which I refuse to read. I tried to read the first book, but just couldn't stand the author's condescending attitude about the virtues of coffee. I admit, I drink coffee and love a good cup of some of the specialty blends. However, I don't lecture on the proper way to store coffee and snub the drink when my mocha was made too soon. She had paragraphs devoted to the proper way to store coffee and how she cringed when she saw coffee being stored improperly. If I wanted to read a book on the history and proper uses of coffee, I would've bought that book. Instead, I wanted a mystery, which the book was more flippant about. Kimberly's haunted bookstore has none of this. The characters are engaging. It's funny to see Pen interact with Jack, her aunt, son, and other members of the community, and they are a quirky bunch. Pen's a little slow on the take and Jack even called her on (something akin to being as green as a broken traffic light), but Jack really likes her, maybe even loves her, and helps her out. I think Pen would be lost without Jack even if her gets on her nerves. Another quirky thing I like about this book is the quotes before each chapter come from pulp detective fiction stories which I would be tempted to read if I didn't have a small TBR looming over me.

2 comments:

hamilcar barca said...

does this qualifiy as a "cozy"? there seems to be a major pile-up of bodies. too many to all occur off-stage, one would think.

oh and word "swimmingly" is très kewl. i'd love to know how that word came to mean what it does.

Christina said...

This does qualify as a cozy still. Two of the murders take place off stage, but poison is used in those two. I think there were a total of five bodies (one from Jack's past), but the show of blood was minimum. Cozies tend to focus on the sleuth and how the sleuth balances solving the puzzle and the routine of life.

www.etymology.com has listed as the form Proto-Indo-European "base *swem- "to be in motion" and because "swimmingly" means to go smoothly, I theorize that's where it comes from. It's just a theory...