Fall is creeping up on us and that means Halloween can't be far behind. I have been waiting for this season to read all my paranormal mysteries! So here is the first in my line-up, a new mystery series by a kinda-sorta new author.
Author: E.J. Copperman
Copyright: June, 2010 (Berkley) 336 pages
Series: #1 in the Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries
Mystery sub-genre: Cozy (Paranormal)
Main Character: Alison Kerby, recently divorced mother of nine year old Melissa
Setting: Modern day New Jersey Shore
Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review
Alison is a truly likable character with a sense of humor and a touch of sass. She is handy with power tools and knows her way around a saw horse and Spackle. She has a "can-do" attitude and doesn't shy away from a lot of hard work. I enjoyed her quirky way of looking at things which made the story a pleasant ride.
The interactions with the two ghosts can be either humorous interchanges or frustrating situations - for both Alison and them. Imagine having a ghost chiming in on your design/decoration plans or being a conflicting influence for your child! The ghosts, Maxie and Paul, are wonderful characters who appear to be permanent fixtures in the house and possibly the series. Alison's mother adores her daughter, which is a pleasant change from so many cozies that have obnoxious mothers. But as we get to know her, mom has a bit more spunk than even Alison realized. Some nice touches there!
"We heard something fall, and we thought someone might be hurt," Paul told me.
I experimented with standing up, but my head was not pleased with the attempt..."No, that's not what happened," I told Paul. "Paul, right? I remember, you were yelling at her." I indicated Maxie. "You said she might have killed me."
Paul's eyes widened in an "uh-oh" sort of way for a flash, and he clearly avoided the urge to look quickly at Maxie. "I wasn't talking about you. I was talking about our dog."
Paul nodded. "Yes, Maxie left our dog in the car with the windows closed. In this heat..."
"Heat?" I asked. "It's October. It's maybe sixty degrees out. What heat?"
His stammering got worse. "Dogs feel the heat more than we do," he said. "All that fur..."
"I got hit on the head," I told Paul. "It hurt, but it didn't make me stupid."
Maxie laughed. "Good one," she said.
I turned to Maxie. "Don't look at Paul," I said. "What kind of dog do you have?"
She wasn't chewing gum, but she should have been. "We don't have a dog," she answered.
"Then what's going on?"
"We're dead." She cocked her head defiantly.
Paul looked aghast. "Maxie!"
I opened and closed my mouth a few times. It was worse than I thought. I wasn't just woozy - I was hallucinating. I decided to lie down and close my eyes for a moment.
The plot is solid without being overdone. The story moves along easily and before you know it the story is wrapping up. The writing is smooth and flows expertly. Told from Alison's viewpoint, it is easy reading and funny. I enjoyed the wrap up which set up the next works to be equally as enjoyable. As a cozy it is spot-on and entertaining and as a debut novel it foretells a delightful series I am looking forward to reading each addition to.
For added mystery, this prior-published author is apparently assuming a pen-name to keep his/her identity quiet. Hmmmmm, who could it be???