In preparation for summer beach reading, here is a cozy mystery to tuck in your beach bag, The Thrill of the Haunt. It’s the latest publication in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series by E.J. Copperman. This goofy mix of saucy characters and ghosts provides a humorous murder mystery that draws the reader into their world.
Alison Kerby has moved back to her hometown, Harbor Haven, along the Jersey Shore. She bought a Victorian house, and converted into an Inn. Alison doesn’t serve food; instead she provides a haunting. The home came with two ghosts, Paul and Maxi, but a number of different ones stop by throughout the story, including Alison’s deceased dad. Be warned, the ghosts are temperamental.
The Kerby family women can see and talk to ghosts. Alison is still dealing with her family trait, but her daughter, Melissa, and Alison’s mom have no problem accepting their unique talent. Alison had blocked her ability at an early age. She didn’t regain it until Maxi dropped a paint can on her head.
Josh Kaplan is Alison’s latest boy friend, but she hasn’t told him about the ghosts. This creates tension throughout the story between all the characters. The residents of Harbor Haven call Alison the Ghost Lady, but she is still not comfortable admitting to Josh that she believes in ghosts, even though ghosts play a pivotal role in both her businesses.
During Paul’s life, he was a private investigator. In previous books, he convinced Alison to take up the detective hat and help ghosts find peace. In The Thrill of the Haunt, they are working on two cases, in addition to maintaining the guesthouse, and catering to at least half a dozen guests. This creates a lot of characters for the reader and author to track, but it is manageable.
In the first case, the head of the mean mother brigade, Kerin, hires Alison to solve the murder of the town’s popular homeless person, Everett. Kerin and Alison don’t like each other, but Alison gets coerced into taking the case.
In case number two, Helen Boffice hires Alison to provide evidence that her husband, Dave, is having an affair. Alison is only on the case a couple of days before Dave’s suspected mistress, Joyce Kinsler, turns up dead.
Alison has her hands full, but with the help of Harbor Haven’s ghostnet; she will get it figured out. The cases twist and turn, and avoid predictability. Alison’s romance and guests keep the story humorous and light. She is more of the bumbling detective rather than a hardened fist fighting, gun-touting private eye.
The story is set along the Jersey Shore, and takes place after Hurricane Sandy. The author incorporates the hurricane damage into the story. The homes are damaged, and the beach is partially eroded. Copperman even talks about the destroyed Ferris wheel HurricaneSandy tossed around.
The Thrill of the Haunt is an easy and enjoyable read. It contains a bunch of ghosts and some good characters with the right amount of tension and suspense.
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