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)