Saturday, April 24, 2010

There’s a Skeleton in the Lighthouse

Re: “Murder Most Maine” by Karen MacInerney

When people say “there’s a skeleton in the closet”, it usually means someone is hiding something. Well Cranberry Island, Maine has just discovered a big secret - there’s a skeleton in the historic lighthouse.

The lighthouse had been boarded up for many years and recently the town decided to renovate so it would be done in time for tourist season. I’m sure they never dreamed they’d find skeletal remains inside.

Locals speculate that it’s Old Harry, one of the lighthouse’s first keepers. He would have worked there sometime during the 1800’s. Legend has it that Harry disappeared one night, washed out to sea during a fierce storm. Nobody ever found his body.

Natalie says she loves living in a place with so much history, but is sad that tragedy sometimes accompanies it.

Thinking about Dirk’s death, she hopes it’s just from natural causes. But then she realizes probably not since he was a health and fitness guru. She wonders if maybe Dirk saw the ghost of Old Harry, the missing lighthouse keeper, and was scared to death.

(Stay tuned for more posts about this book).

Monday, April 19, 2010

“Murder Most Maine” by Karen MacInerney

This is book #3 in the Gray Whale Inn mystery series featuring female-sleuth Natalie Barnes. Natalie is the owner of The Gray Whale Inn, a bed and breakfast set on the small Maine locale of Cranberry Island.

Natalie has been in business for about a year now and is trying to drum up new business for her inn. As the book opens, we find that she is hosting a week-long weight loss and exercise retreat. If all goes well as she hopes, she will not only fatten her bank account but trim her waistline by participating in the weight loss and exercise program herself.

The woman who runs the weight loss program is named Vanessa and she is no stranger to Cranberry Island, having spent several summers there as a young woman. Rumor has it Vanessa left a long line of broken hearts and several of the men she dated still reside on Cranberry Island.

Partnering with Vanessa is a hunky trainer named Dirk and he will be taking over the exercise portion of the program. Natalie notices that he is very good at handing out weight loss supplements and vitamins, and she hopes that these are safe for her guests. Natalie also notices how Dirk attracts the attention of several of her female guests.

It’s said that Vanessa and Dirk are more than just business partners - they are romantic partners as well. But Natalie wonders when her own boyfriend, John, is seen getting quite cozy with his former flame Vanessa. And Natalie can’t help but feel a bit jealous of the beautiful, slender Vanessa.

On the second day of the retreat, everyone is to gather for a morning hike up to Cranberry Island’s old lighthouse. Everyone shows up except Dirk. The group starts out and on the way, Vanessa discovers a body. Dirk’s body. He’s dead.

(Stay tuned for more posts about this book).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Done with “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” by Alice Kimberly

I like this book. I like this series. I have one more book to blog about (#2) and then I’m caught up. That is, until the next book is released and I hope that will be soon.

After she and Jack the Ghost solve the mystery of what happened to Timothy Brennan, Pen tells him that she thinks they make a good team. And they should work together to solve Jack’s own murder! Given that it occurred in 1949, that’s going to be a tough order to fill.

You can buy the book here:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hearing Voices

Re: “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” by Alice Kimberly

Imagine one day hearing a voice inside your head and you don’t know whose voice it is, why this is happening to you or what’s going on. That’s what happens to Penelope the day that author Timothy Brennan visits her bookstore to sign his latest book.

At first Pen thinks the male voice is a heckler. But she slowly comes to realize that nobody can hear this voice except for her. And that somehow this ‘voice’ knows what she is thinking and can carry on a conversation with her, in her head!

How can this be explained? Pen wonders if she is delusional or going insane. The voice assures her she isn’t.

So Pen decides to go to the internet to further research her problem. She does a keyword search on ‘ghosts’ and ‘haunting’ and finds her way to a college’s Department of Parapsychology. After getting some interesting answers, someone tells her just to go with the flow and start talking to this ghost of hers.

She does, and he convinces her he’s for real. That is, as real as a ghost can be.

(Stay tuned for more posts about this book).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shield of Justice

Re: “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” by Alice Kimberly

One of the things Penelope has decided to do is to hold book signings at her bookstore to drum up more business. The very first author to agree to come and sign his book, “Shield of Justice”, is Timothy Brennan. “Shield of Justice” is the latest in a very popular series of novels about a New York PI named Jack Shield.

(In a very interesting twist, the fictional Jack Shield is non other than Jack Shepard, now the resident ghost at Penelope’s “Buy the Book” bookstore. PI Shepard and author Brennan had met in person many years before when Brennan was a reporter).

Brennan has written 19 Shield novels and has had two TV series spun off from the character. He is a very successful author. People love the Shield character so much that they have come to the book signing dressed as Shield in double-breasted gray suits and fedoras.

In addition to signing books, Brennan gives a speech in which he reveals that he is going to cease writing the fictional Shield novels and instead will work on a nonfiction book into the details of Jack Shepard’s last case. Needless to say, the audience is not happy with this news.

During Brennan’s talk, he becomes thirsty and is given a bottle of spring water to drink. He then gasps for air and collapses. His last words are “Jack Shepard - it can’t be - you’re dead!”

Did Jack the Ghost scare Brennan to death? Did Brennan die of natural causes? Or was it murder?

(Stay tuned for more posts about this book).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eternity in Cornpone Alley

Re: “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” by Alice Kimberly

The ghost in this book has a name and it’s Jack Shepard. Former cop and WWII vet, last a street-wise New York City private investigator.

He came to Quindicott, Rhode Island in 1949 and never left. Well his body did, but his spirit didn’t. It now haunts a section of Penelope Thornton-McClure’s bookstore, Buy the Book.

Jack is less than thrilled at the prospect of spending all eternity in what he calls ‘cornpone alley’. Compared to the thrill of the big city, Quindicott is in his mind so un-sophisticated, back-water, hick and just plain not cool. So to pass time, when he’s not ‘sleeping’, he’s playing pranks on those unfortunate enough to invade his territory. Like moving objects from one place to another.

He even pulls a prank on Mrs. McClure, but she doesn’t become frightened. She keeps an even head to try to figure out what happened.

(Stay tuned for more posts about this book).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

“The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” by Alice Kimberly

I’ve been neglecting my reading and my blogging, which is unusual because I’ve started re-reading the first book in one of my favorite series. It’s called “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure”. The book is about a widow with a young son who, after the death of her husband, moves to a small town to buy a bookstore over the protests of her husband’s family.

What she soon finds out is that the bookstore is haunted by the ghost of a murdered private investigator from the 1940's.  He's like a character out of an old film noir movie.  Over the course of the series (five books so far) they become a crime-solving team and find themselves attracted to each other.  When she sleeps, he enters her dreams and pulls her into his world.  Of course that's from a time when men did all the talking - and she's a modern woman who has some talking of her own to do!

This series is inspired by the 1947 movie “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. (The movie was based on a 1945 novel of the same name). I watched this movie recently and having done so, it puts The Haunted Bookshop series into perspective. The movie is about a strong-willed widow who moves herself and her young daughter (played by Natalie Wood) into a sea-side cottage over the protests of her husband’s family. She soon finds out the cottage is haunted by the ghost of it’s former owner, a rough and rowdy sea captain. He respects her because she isn’t afraid of him, and eventually they too become attracted to each other. The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography and I can see why. It's very stylish.

In the preface to Alice Kimberly’s book, there is a quote from the novel where the ghostly sea captain says: “There’s a dimension that some spirits have to wait in till they realize and admit the truth about themselves”.

I imagine that’s what the Ghost in “The Ghost and Mrs. McClure” has to do too.

(Stay tuned for more posts about this book).