by Cynthia Chow
& Kate Kingsbury
This week we are reviewing the latest book by Kate Kingsbury, Dead and Breakfast. We also have a fun behind the scenes guest post by Kate about ghosts. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Dead and Breakfast. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Dead and Breakfast: A Merry Ghost Mystery by Kate Kingsbury
Review by Cynthia Chow
Unhappy with her job in Portland as a financial analyst and even more unsettled by her recent divorce, Melanie West is starting over by helping her grandmother renovate a bed-and-breakfast in Oregon’s Sully’s Landing. Melanie and Liza Harris have barely begun to peel off the wallpaper before discovering a skeleton hidden in a wall’s secret compartment. It seems that not only did Angela Morelli never make it to New Jersey after leaving her husband seven years ago, an autopsy reveals that she was pregnant at the time. When the police halt the renovations in order to pursue a murder investigation, the B&B’s budget and opening date is in dire jeopardy. Although appearances by someone she believes is her ex-husband have Melanie fearful and not a little paranoid, her grandmother is all for investigating the murder and ensuring that the Merry Ghost Inn opens on time.
Rumors that the house is haunted is why Liza has named the B&B the Merry Ghost Inn. She fully accepts that the inexplicable bouts of laughter of an artist who hung himself after being romantically spurned in the 1920s, though Melanie refuses to believe that the laughter is anything other than house noises or her grandmother’s doing. Melanie is far more invested in the mystery of her own mother, who after the death of Melanie’s father fled for London never to be heard of again. Although Melanie initially believed that locating her mother would bring peace of mind to her grandmother, it is Melanie who really needs to discover the truth. It takes an additional murder, one that leaves a poor dog traumatized and alone, to fully bring to light just how much the uncertainty of her abandonment has affected Melanie’s life.
This first in the new Merry Ghost Mystery series by a highly prolific author introduces a very likable heroine struggling to start over and rebuild her life. Melanie’s distress over her divorce overwhelms her clarity at times, so every time she prevails it proves to be all the more rewarding. Liza is an absolute delight, fully embracing the presence of a ghost while Melanie denies what is happening before her eyes. The paranormal aspect plays a subtle role in this novel, so future installments may have the ghost assuming a larger role. The focus of the novel most often centers on the loving relationship between Melanie and her grandmother, with side elements that promise even more humor, ghosts, and possibly a little romance in the future.
Speaking of Ghosts…
by Kate Kingsbury
Do you believe in ghosts? My answer to that question used to be an emphatic “No!” Until something happened that convinced me there is another world beyond ours that defies explanation.
Shortly after the end of World War II, my mother uprooted our family from London and bought a nine-bedroom guest house on the south-east coast. The house was built in the late Victorian era and was initially the home of a wealthy family and their servants.
My mother was no business woman and treated her customers like family. Word soon spread about our extraordinary service. We received nothing but effusive praise from our grateful guests, except for one small exception. It seemed that people had trouble sleeping in Room One.
It was a tiny room tucked away on the fourth floor. No doubt it had been provided for a scullery maid—the lowest rung on the servant’s ladder. Usually the room was occupied by a child, and therefore the interrupted sleep was attributed to the usual distractions for a child away from home. When the occasional adult started complaining, however, we took notice.
After a thorough investigation of the room, we could find no reason why people had trouble sleeping in there. When questioned, the children couldn’t explain, and the adults were evasive.
At the end of the summer season we had the house to ourselves and could choose a room to use during the winter. Anxious to find the cause for the disturbance, my mother urged me to sleep in Room One.
The first night in there I found it difficult to fall asleep. The midnight chimes of the nearby church clock seemed unusually loud. I told myself I was imagining things. After all, the church was just as close to some of the other rooms, and no one else had mentioned hearing the clock.
I eventually fell asleep, but it was a restless night, and I awoke early the next morning with the feeling that I had missed something. My mother seemed disappointed when I told her nothing but the church clock had disturbed me. Since no one had complained about the chiming, she dismissed it as a cause for the disruption. There had to be another reason.
Having had little sleep the night before, I was tired when I went to bed. I fell asleep almost at once, and awoke a short time later to hear the clock chiming twelve. I told myself that had to be the reason for the restless guests. But why hadn’t the sound woken up anyone in the other rooms? Why had no one mentioned it?
It was at that moment, as the last chime faded into silence, that I heard it. It was a faint sound, like the rustling of stiff cotton sheets. I sat up, staring into the darkness. As I sat there, I felt the pressure of something moving down the side of the bed toward the window. I couldn’t see anything, but somehow I knew that I was listening to the sound of taffeta skirts swishing past me.
I shot out of bed, out of that room and down the stairs to the second floor. My sister wasn’t too thrilled when I leapt into her bed and pulled the covers over my head.
The following morning I told my mother that I’d heard heavy taffeta skirts brushing the bed, like those worn in the Victorian era. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d witnessed the presence of a ghost.
My practical father roared with laughter when he heard my story. Attributing it to my active imagination, he emphatically dismissed the idea. Annoyed that he didn’t believe me, I challenged him to sleep in Room One. Much to my surprise, he agreed.
That night, while I slept in another room, my father went to bed on the fourth floor. The following morning I eagerly confronted him. He was evasive, saying there was no such thing as ghosts. It was my mother who told me that my father had left Room One in the middle of the night, and wouldn’t tell her why.
My father, who had fought on the battlefields of WWII, and had faced immeasurable horrors with courage and fortitude, had not been able to spend one night in that room.
Orville, the laughing ghost in Dead and Breakfast, is a mischievous, fun-loving spirit, and I hope you will be able to spend more than one night in his presence. As for belief in ghosts, as Liza, part owner of The Merry Ghost Inn declares, “Just because scientists don’t have hard evidence yet, doesn’t mean they’re not there. It simply means we haven’t yet found the technology to prove it.”
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
To enter to win a copy of Dead and Breakfast, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “breakfast,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 28, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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