Sunday, February 22, 2009

Solve a Murder with a Ghost

This spirit is willing-- to catch a killer.

Young widow Penelope Thornton-McClure and her old Aunt Sadie are making ends meet by managing a mystery bookshop- a quaint Rhode Island landmark rumored to be haunted. Pen may not believe in ghosts, but she does believe in good publicity—like nabbing Timothy Brennan for a book signing. But soon after the bestselling thriller writer reveals a secret about the store's link to a 1940's murder, he keels over dead- right in the middle of the store's new Community Events space.

Who gives Mrs. McClure the first clue that it was murder? The bookstore's full-time ghost, a PI who was murdered on the very spot more than fifty years before. Is he a figment of Pen's overactive imagination? Or is the oddly likeable fedora-wearing specter the only hope Pen has to solve the crime? You can bet your everlasting life on it...

Title: The Ghost and Mrs. McClure
Author: Alice Kimberly
Series: Haunted Bookshop Mystery, Book 1
Start & Finished: 10/9/08
Published: 2004
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Pages: 261
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Written by the married couple Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi under the pen name Alice Kimberly, The Ghost and Mrs. McClure is the first book in their Haunted Bookshop mystery series. Obviously inspired by The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick (later adapted into a movie and a TV series) as well as those old 1940's detective stories, Mr. and Mrs. "Kimberly" have created a new series that just may outshine their previous collaborations such as the Coffeehouse Mysteries written under the name Cleo Coyle.

Penelope Thornton-McClure (Pen for short), is a great character but what will really draw the readers in is Jack Shepard. He’s interesting and I love learning what he can do as a ghost (not to mention Pen’s ability to speak with the dead, even if she’s just now acknowledging the hidden ability). Another thing that I really liked was how plausible the actual crime solving is. Pen can’t very well go to the cops and tell them a ghost told her that so and so did this or that, so with Jack’s help she figures out the clues and solves the crime. Since Jack can’t leave the bookshop, she’s his eyes, ears, and gams (legs) and he teaches her how to be a detective like he was back before he got “lead poisoning” (shot).

Of course, I’ve seen old detective TV shows and even some movies but it wasn’t until very recently that I had read my first authentic hard-boiled detective story with Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake. While very good, you could still tell that Chandler’s book was written during that time period and The Ghost and Mrs. McClure is not (there are flashback scenes that take place in the 1940s but the rest of the book is set in modern day with Jack as a ghost). The language bothered me at first because it seemed as if the authors were trying a little too hard to use a lot of slang from that particular decade. It is toned down a little throughout the rest of the book and Pen, being a modern woman helps to balance it out too. This was a great book and I will most definitely be reading the rest of the series soon.

Berkley’s Prime Crime produces some of my favorite cozy mysteries because almost all of them (that I have read at least) not only are fun and creative, but also include a little something extra. For some it’s recipes, but there are many other unique things. For this particular series, its little quotes from detective novels by authors such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett as well as books about detective novels (sometimes even just quotes about books in general) are at the beginning of each chapter:

Publicity darling, just publicity. Any kind is better than none at all. --
Raymond Chandler, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot,” Black Mask, December 1933
(Chandler’s debut short story)

Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series:
1. The Ghost and Mrs. McClure (2004)
2. The Ghost and the Dead Deb (2005)
3. The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library (2006)
4. The Ghost and the Femme Fatale (2008)
5. The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion (2009)

Interview: Mist Sand Stars Q&A, The Idea Boutique Guest Post

Picture Explanations
Water Bottle:
Timothy Brennan demands only bottled water during his book signing.
Kitten: Spencer's new kitten named Bookmark
Heels: When Jack takes Penelope into his memories, he also dresses her to fit the time period


  1. I'm really enjoying this series. I've read the first four and have The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion among my TBR books.

  2. This sounds like a fun series. I couldn't help but think of the show LOST when I saw mention of Jack Shepard. That's the name of one of the main characters on the show. :-) Great review, Jen!

  3. I always think of the old TV show, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir when I see this one.

  4. I'll have to try and remember to look up this series! I don't recall ever hearing about a ghost PI :D and I do enjoy quotes at the beginning of the chapter!

  5. Wow, that's dedication! You are reviewing books from last year! I consider all the ones I didn't review a lost cause! I am having a hard enough time keeping up with 2009 reviews. lol

  6. This sounds really good. I'm going to add it to the TBR pile. I love the way you write reviews. You really do an excellent job! I always enjoy reading them.

  7. this does sound like a fun series,great review!
    'Jack Shepard' is the name of a character from LOST :O)

  8. Jo: I've read the first three and I'm waiting on my library to get in the Femme Fatale as I already have The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion. Thanks for stopping by!

    Wendy: I've never seen LOST before. Love Jack Shepard the PI though! He's kind of a mix between Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe :) Not sure if you would enjoy this or not but I do like them!!!

    Bermudaonion: I've never seen the show but I just loved the movie with Rex Harrison. The authors were fans of the book, movie, and TV show which is how they got part of the idea for this series.

    The Epic Rat: I've heard of a vampire PI and a wizard PI but yeah I'll admit that a ghost PI was a new one on me! Love the little "extras" Prime Crime authors put in their books :o)

    Kailana: Yep and I've been behind almost since I started blogging. First it was a couple of weeks behind and then it was almost a months worth and now it's 4 months worth! Very frustrating but I refuse to give in and skip reviews so far.

    The Chic Geek: Aw! Thank you so much! I always wanted to do an "interactive" experience with pics, videos, and links about the books all laid out in one spot :) I do hope you like this series as much as I do!

    Naida: Thank you. I still haven't seen that show but I have the feeling that this books' Shepard would sneer at that character lol.

  9. I like a lot of the series put out by Berkley Prime Crime, too, but haven't tried this one yet. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review!

  10. I have this book in my TBR pile...I love these cozy mystery books...Loved you review!!

  11. I've got this one on my TBR list and am glad you reviewed it as it reminded me that I wanted to use it for one of my challenges. Great review and now I'm looking forward to reading it.

  12. I read this one awhile ago and remember enjoying it. I've always planned on reading more in the series..just haven't gotten around to it yet.

  13. Chelle: I haven't read a Prime Crime in awhile and I miss them! Hope you enjoy them if you do :)

    Allison: Thank you!!! Looking forward to hearing what you thought of it.

    Samantha: I'm glad :o) I hope you like it as much as I did.

    Kris: I know how that is. I read the third one in this series in December and I still haven't gotten around to picking any of the others up yet.

  14. Wow, I don't know how I missed this series, but it sounds like a lot of fun! I'm putting it on my list. Thanks for the review!

  15. I've wondered about this series... Sounds like it could be a really fun cozy. And, you are so right the Prime Crime imprint really has some neat books.

  16. I've never heard of this series before. Sounds like something I would love. They are going on my list!

  17. Darla D: I really hope you enjoy them too!

    Iliana: Oh they're really good and Prime Crime is one of the best when it comes to cozies :o)

    Camille: I'm glad!

  18. It's on my paperbackswap wish list right now. Great review.

    I don't know why, but this book reminds me of John Dunning's Cliff Janeway novels (Booked to Die, Bookman's Wake, etc). Janeway is a very much alive former detective/bibliophile who opens a book store but still gets caught up in solving mysteries. Very fun series.



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