Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dumber Than a Box of Rocks

Re: The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly

In so many of the cozy or traditional murder mysteries, the police detectives investigating the murders are stubborn, insensitive and just plain dumb! They refuse to listen to the insights and intuition of our female-sleuths. The police often consider the female-sleuths to be meddlesome and just plain 'in-the-way'. The cops don't get it, which is too bad because our girls have the brains and the gumption to figure out what's what!

Quindicott's police Chief Ciders is no exception. He thinks Dr. Lilly had a fatal 'accident' in Penelope's store, and even goes so far as to say that Penelope is negligent because she allowed Dr. Lilly to climb up a ladder. He thinks Penelope set herself up for a lawsuit by Dr. Lilly's estate.

What does Jack the Ghost think of all this? He calls Chief Ciders "Chief Donut" and he thinks Dr. Lilly was murdered. So does Penelope.

Hmm, I wonder who is right?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just An Accident?

Re: The Ghost and the Femme Fatale By Alice Kimberly

During the Film Noir Festival there is an “accident” at the movie theater. A large audio speaker which was mounted on the ceiling, crashes to the stage and nearly misses legendary actress and femme fatale Hedda Geist.

Bud Napp, local hardware store owner, mounted the speaker and swears that everything was just fine up there when he left it. His thought was that someone could have gotten a ladder and planted a small explosive device near the speaker.

The next day Dr. Irene Lilly, noted film historian from California, comes to Penelope’s bookstore “Buy the Book”. She is going to help set up a display of her new book before the store opens. Penelope dashes out to buy donuts and coffee for their customers. She returns to find Dr. Lilly lying on the floor in a pool of blood. It looks like she’s had an “accident” - she fell off a stepladder while hanging a banner promoting the Film Noir Festival.

The local police come to investigate and they believe it was an “accident”. But Penelope and Jack the Ghost speculate that Dr. Lilly was pushed, and that the speaker crash could have been meant for Dr. Lilly instead of actress Hedda Geist.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly

I liked Alice Kimberly's last book so much I thought I would read the next one in the Haunted Bookshop series. This book starts out with our female-sleuth Penelope Thornton-McClure attending a Film Noir festival at the newly opened and lavishly restored Movie Town Theater in Quindicott Rhode Island.

Penelope's friend and local college professor of English, J. Brainert Parker is a part owner of the new theater. He has worked hard to set up the weekend's activities with films, guest speakers and a former movie femme fatale, Hedda Geist.

I've heard of the term 'Film Noir', but didn't really know what it meant. Author Alice Kimberly says that films of this genre shared the same dark style. In French, Film Noir means 'Black Film'. By this the French movie critics meant the themes dealt with crime, detectives and murder.

According to wikipedia, "Film Noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize moral ambiguity and sexual motivation. Hollywood's classic Film Noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s."

When Penelope explains the term to her resident ghost, Jack Shepard, he says that he lived that life when he was still alive.

Artwork courtesy stock.xchng

Friday, December 19, 2008

Done with The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

As it turns out the mysterious Poe Code really exists in those thirteen old volumes, and it does point to a treasure. I won't reveal what the treasure is but it's pretty neat. Unfortunately a murder was committed by an unscrupulous character who was after the treasure, but Penelope helped solve the murder with the help of her ghost Jack.

Jack gives Penelope clues to her 'case' by showing her one of his old cases that is similar to hers. He does this while she is sleeping - he appears in her dreams and sometimes he even pulls her into his reality. He will even dress her up in the fashions of the 1940's and gets her involved in the action of the cases. The two definitely have some chemistry between them and as he says, "I'll see you in your dreams baby". (Oh, be still my heart.)

I'm pretty fascinated by the idea Ms. Kimberly came up with for this series and I'm really looking forward to reading more of her books.

You can buy this book here:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

She's Got Gams Right Up to Her Neck

Re: The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

Reminds me of the 1970's Rod Stewart song "Hot Legs". Only the statement above was uttered by hard-boiled 1940's big-city private-eye ghost Jack Shepard, and he's referring to a pretty nurse at the local hospital. He is astounded to find out that there are male nurses too and thinks it's a shame. Jack has attitudes and uses language that many women today might find offensive and even sexist. But they were common for his time and among his peers.

The reason Jack and Penelope are at the local hospital is that her friend J. Brainert Parker was robbed and physically attacked in his home. Brainert thinks he has deciphered the Poe Code and obviously someone else thinks that too, because they broke in and stole Brainert's notes.

Backing up a bit, you may ask how Jack's ghost could be at the hospital with Penelope. One day Penelope found a buffalo nickel amongst Jack's possessions and absent-mindedly put it in her pocket. She found that when she left the bookstore, she could still hear Jack's voice! They surmised that Jack's presence was somehow transferred to the nickel, so now when Penelope leaves the bookstore she makes sure to always have the nickel with her.

Sexist comments or not - I would too. I kinda like Jack!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Poe Code

Re: The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

Included with the old leather-bound volumes that Peter Chesley left to "Buy The Book" were very rare editions of the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe - in 13 different books. Supposedly these books have three secret riddles, or codes, randomly hidden in them. When solved the riddles will point the way to a treasure. Some believe the "Poe Code" exists and others don't.

So now the phone is ringing off the hook at Penelope's bookstore as the word gets out about these volumes. The first one sells for $8,000 and another buyer calls and says he wants to pay $5,000. This is just for one book! I wish I had some books like that!

Penelope thinks that Peter Chesley's death was related to this hidden treasure map buried inside the volumes. And Jack the ghost agrees with her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library by Alice Kimberly

The female-sleuth of this series is Penelope Thornton-McClure and she lives in the small town of Quindicott, Rhode Island. She is a widowed mom of a 10-year old boy named Spencer. With her aunt Sadie, she runs a bookstore in downtown Quindicott called "Buy the Book".

The interesting thing about "Buy the Book" is that it has a resident ghost in street-smart private investigator Jack Shepard (think Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon"). Jack was murdered in the bookstore many years ago and has never left - that is, his spirit has never left. And only Penelope can 'hear' him. At first she thinks she is going crazy but eventually she learns to accept his presence. In fact he has helped her solve a couple of murders.

"It was a dark and stormy night. No, really." This statement appears in Chapter 1 of this book, which is the third in the series. Penelope and Aunt Sadie are on their way to visit an old beau of Sadie's, Peter Chesley. Peter lives in the old Chesley family mansion that Penelope describes as being like the Addams family mansion - creepy! During their short visit Penelope senses that someone else is in the mansion besides the three of them, but Peter says no.

Peter has some rare and valuable old books he wants them to sell for him on consignment. So Penelope and Sadie load up the car with the books and head for home. A few minutes later Penelope realizes her purse is missing - so they turn around and head back for Peter's creepy old mansion. When they get there they discover the doors are wide open and Peter is dead - lying at the foot of the stairs. He appears to have fallen.

As Penelope reaches for her cell phone to call 911, flashing red lights appear on the property - it seems the police have already been summoned! But who called them?

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Done with "I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason"

I like this book and I think it is well written. I was a bit confused by all the characters and had a hard time keeping some of them straight. But I think that's just me - I've had a lot going on in my personal life lately. I loved finding out more about Earl Stanley Gardner - what a character.

Cece Caruso is spunky and I will enjoy getting to know her better. One thing I don't share with her is her love of designer clothes. Give me a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt anyday!

You can buy the book here:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Birthplace of Perry Mason

Re: I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason by Susan Kandel

I like to look at author's websites. According to Susan Kandel's site,, she got the idea for this book during a weekend trip to Ventura CA. She saw a plaque attached to the side of an old brick building in the historic district that read:

"Historic Point of Interest #33: Birthplace of Perry Mason".

So Ms. Kandel had the idea to create a female-sleuth who writes biographies of dead mystery writers. And in so doing, stumbles upon murder and mayhem and tries to solve them.

I think it's a pretty clever idea. I've already bought the second book in the series and I haven't finished this one yet!