A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery

By E. J. Copperman

Berkley Prime Crime, 2013 ($7.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-425-25168-3

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Alison Kerby has been managing her Victorian guesthouse for a year, and things are working out pretty well. She and her contractor have made many home improvements, although much more remains to be done. Her daughter Melissa is mostly happy, not yet falling into the tween angst stage. Both of her resident ghosts are pretty well-behaved, although Paul still has a crush on her and Maxie tends to be snippy more often than not. Yes, this New Jersey guesthouse is haunted, but in a good way. Some visitors come just for the spirits, and business is good.

Her mother, on the other hand, is obviously hiding something from her, acting strangely, keeping secrets, having conversations with unseen entities. Alison has only been able to see dead people since her recent head injury, but Mom and Melissa have been able to communicate with ghosts for quite a while. Mom finally admits she's been talking to Alison's father weekly since his death five years ago. Alison is hurt — as much as she's wanted to be in touch with him again, it's never happened.

Now he's missing, and another spirit claims that he can reunite the family. He won't do it for free, however. He wants Alison, who, with help from Paul, a private detective in his living years, has had some success in crime solving, to prove he was murdered. Sure, no problem, even though he'd had a heart problem, there was absolutely no indication that his death was not from natural causes, and, oh yeah, he lied to her and didn't even tell her his real name.

Alison sets off for her father's old haunts, re-living the happy times she spent with him in a local hardware store, finding one of his old friends as well as his hot grandson Josh. The little boy she'd hidden in the rafters with years ago has grown up nicely, and her life takes an interesting turn. He isn't even fazed by her colorful household, a definite point in his favor.

The search for her missing dad is poignant, painful, and dangerous for Alison and her accomplices, living and dead. They get into lots of zany situations, get some cops very confused, meet some nasty spooks, but all's well that ends well.

This is the fourth Haunted Guesthouse mystery, and it is just as entertaining as the previous three. That is very entertaining indeed. The characters are engaging and authentic, the dialog snappy and funny, the mystery well-plotted. What's not to like? Read it, you'll like it.

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