The Ghost & Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly is the first in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series. I began this series as part of the Cozy Mystery Challenge sponsored by Kris Meyer at her Not Enough Books blog. I bought and downloaded the book from the Sony eReader Bookstore.
The product description reads: Penelope Thornton-McClure manages a Rhode Island bookshop rumored to be haunted. When a bestselling author drops dead signing books, the first clue of foul play comes from the store’s full-time ghost-a PI murdered on the very spot more than fifty years ago.
Is he a figment of Pen’s overactive imagination? Or is the likable, fedora-wearing specter the only hope Pen has to solve the crime?
At first, I was a bit leery of this book because it begins with a prologue filled with 1940-noir PI language, such as “Maybe he was hard, thought Jack. But baby, this was one hick town. No painted dolls or groghounds here. No nickel rats, cheap grifters, or diamond-dripping dames looking to have their husbands set up. Just clean air, families with kids, potluck socials, and farm-fresh moo juice.” I wasn’t sure I could stand reading that throughout the book. As poetic as it looks here, it takes more time to read than I was willing to put into a cozy mystery. However, the first chapter jumped to present day and more contemporary language. And while there was an occasional return to this type of speaking, it was confined to one character, and the protagonist even found his language a bit startling. Luckily, it didn’t stop me from trying the rest of the book, because I ended up really liking it.
This is the first story with Penelope Thornton-McClure who has decided to move to Quindicott, Rhode Island and buy a share of her Aunt Sadie’s failing bookstore after her husband’s recent suicide. She sinks every penny she has into the bookstore in hopes of establishing a new life for herself and her son Spencer.
After expanding and remodeling and renaming the story, Pen sets up an author appearance and signing with best-selling Timothy Brennan, writer of the Detective Jack Shield series. Unfortunately, Brennan dies during the appearance at Buy the Book. Instead of killing the bookstore, the death puts the store on the map as they sell out of all of their Brennan books as fast as they arrive (with some of them being resold for up to $300 per book on eBay).
While Pen is trying to cope with the craziness of the business and her interfering in-laws, she begins to hear voices, well one voice really–that of the real life PI Jack Shepherd who was apparently also murdered at the bookstore, albeit 50 years ago.
This book revolves around Penelope coming to terms with a ghost in her bookstore (and in her head since she is apparently the only one who can hear him) and working with that ghost to solve the murder of Timothy Brennan.
This cozy mystery is quick-paced and entertaining. I am looking forward to the next in the series.