by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder by Victoria Laurie-the last book in her Ghost Hunter mystery series. We also have a fun short interview with Victoria about her book. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it.
A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder: A Ghost Hunter Mystery By Victoria Laurie
Review by Cynthia Chow
The final release of a movie incorporating footage of their Ghoul Getters reality ghost-busting adventures has opened up new pathways for the paranormally gifted stars. While the production crew pay off loans and tour across Europe, M.J. Halliday and Heath Whitefeather were able to sneak off for an elopement and honeymoon. Gilley Gillespie, paranormal tech wiz and M.J.’s BFF, uses his financial bonus to ‘groomzilla’ out on a wedding to his boyfriend Michel. Considering Gil’s normal state of self-involvement and narcissism, perhaps M.J. shouldn’t have been too surprised that he wouldn’t hesitate to loan out an apocalyptically powerful dagger to further fund his ostentatious wedding plans.
What no one could have predicted was that the magnetic guards surrounding the dagger would be sabotaged, the museum director murdered, and the dagger stolen out of the Museum of Modern Science. Investigating Boston Detective Olivera is suspicious and doubtful of M.J. and her ghost-hunting abilities, but even she will be unable to deny the ensuing chaos. Not only does the dagger release the malevolent spirit of the Turkish warlock Oruc, it opens a portal allowing for the passage of every psychotic serial-killing nemesis M.J. and her friends have faced. Considering that the team nearly lost their lives battling each of these poltergeists one-on-one, battling them all at once seems insurmountable.
Gil’s moments of selfishness and overly-dramatic cowardly behavior has proven to be a stumbling block in previous installments, but the author quickly moves past it by having his actions instigate events. He thankfully steps up and reveals why M.J. remains such a steadfast and loyal friend, as she will need all of the assistance she can find when facing enemies stronger and more vengeful than any she has faced before. The love and support of her new husband and the future he promises, will definitely provide her with strength, while cameos from Laurie’s Abby Cooper series donate additional humor and counsel.
The bittersweet news is that this tenth in the series beautifully concludes the adventures of these unique and charming characters. We’ve seen M.J. grow stronger and more confident in her powers, and watching her finally achieve the same success in her personal life is a deeply satisfying delight. Heath is her perfect lifemate, and readers are left assured that they will continue to meet every new challenge in their lives together.
Laurie rewards loyal readers by reintroducing their greatest foes as a collection of greatest hits, and it is gratifying to see M.J. meet each enemy head on. The sense of jeopardy and genuine threat is at its highest with so much at stake for M.J., and she resolutely battles for her beliefs with love, humor, and compassion. Readers may be reluctant to turn the last page and conclude what has been such an entertaining series, but rest assured that the deeply fulfilling conclusion balances out even that heartbreak.
Victoria Laurie Behind the Book Interview:
KRL: This, sadly, concludes the series. What led you to finally decide it was time?
Victoria: Honestly I just felt that M.J.’s personal story as a single woman had run its course. She was at the point where, dragging out her uncommitted life was going to start to feel inauthentic, and I think I really wanted her to have a bright future with a husband and children and a life free from the constant threat of some evil spirit or demon tracking her down and attacking her or her family. Plus, the Ghost Hunter mysteries themselves have always been a much bigger challenge for me to write than any other series simply from the standpoint of both a crafting the history for the spook and a compelling mystery to revolve around that history which M.J. et al need to solve.
The simple truth is that I felt – in every way – that it was time for M.J. to retire and for me to let go of the series and move on to something else that I was excited about and could see a long future with. True, my sweet M.J. will be very hard to top, but I like a good challenge, and I think the series I’ll be working on to replace hers will be even more thrilling, compelling, and imaginative. I’m very excited about tackling something new.
KRL: Without spoiling anything, was there any doubt on how you would end the books?
Victoria: Nope. Well, maybe there was a moment when I was in my sixteenth hour at the keyboard and it was going on two a.m. and I was so very, very, tired, and so very stressed, and so very mentally done where I thought, “Hmmm, I could totally have M.J. and Gilley Thelma & Louise this thing riiiiiiiight over a cliff about now…” but that moment passed. Eventually. 🙂
KRL: A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder is almost a greatest hits of villains. What led you to this, and how did you decide which enemies to include?
Victoria: It was a very organic decision once I decided to end M.J.’s story. I needed there to be a definite and finite reason for M.J. to want out of the ghost busting business–something that couldn’t be argued with, and nothing does that like the threat old spooks would pose to M.J. and her family for the rest of her life if she chose to stay in the game. For all the reasons laid out in the book, I think fans will definitely understand why I brought the past back to life, so to speak.
I also chose the spooks from previous books that scared me the most throughout the series. Hatchet Jack remains one of the creepiest nasties I’ve ever come up with and the Widow…*shudders* I mean…there’s no way I could leave her out. Access for the spooks was granted of course by the dagger from Oruc and you can’t have him without his pet demon. Still, I think it was a harder choice deciding which spooks to exclude rather include. I always loved the phantom from Ireland, but bringing him into the story would’ve eclipsed many of the others, I think. And the demon that attacked Heath’s tribe was also a difficult choice to leave out, but I didn’t want the story to get too cluttered, so I kept the list fairly short.
KRL: Gil has been a character who aids almost as much as he hinders, and here he nearly destroys the world while planning his wedding. What led you to make him the instigator of events?
Victoria: Well, when you think about it, Gil has been the natural foil of the series from book one. He’s the character I’ve loved the most, and fans either love him or they hate him, and I’m good with both of those reactions. He’s how I’ve always stymied and impeded M.J.’s progress, because if she were free to tackle the mysteries and spooks on her own she’d do it in like…what? Three chapters – tops? And what’s the rest of the book going to be about then? So, Gilley is supposed to get in her way, cause distraction, and run amok. That’s his role and his purpose and for ten books he’s just been wonderful at it! 🙂
In this particularly case, however, there was no other logical way to get the dagger out into the open and have it come off as believable. Gilley is the one truly temptable character, so he’s the natural choice for the weak link in the chain of unfortunate events that unfold from the first chapter.
KRL: Have you ever had a friendship like that between Gil and M.J.?
Victoria: Yes, absolutely. Gilley is actually based on my agent of thirteen years who is also one of my dearest friends and I think of him like my own brother, so yes, Gil and M.J. are very much like Jim and I, except Jim is far less of a pain in the ass. 😉 Mostly he’s charming and delightful!
KRL: Do you have any plans for M.J. to appear in future Abby Cooper books?
Victoria: I do not. M.J. has ridden off into that sunset, and I truly doubt I’ll ever have her pop into an Abby book again. I know some people will be bummed to hear that, but more than I want to give in to the temptation of having her reappear, I want M.J. to have all the happiness and quiet she deserves, and I don’t think I can do that by roping her into any of Abby’s craziness. Quite frankly, I think she’s earned her privacy and I’m going to give it to her. I could change my mind down the road, but right now I’m very against having her come back to work, even if it is just to say, hi.
KRL: Could you ever be tempted to return to the Ghost Hunter series?
Victoria: Nope. Sorry! C’est finis!
You can learn more about Victoria and her books on her website.
To enter to win a copy of A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “ghoul,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 6, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
You can use this link to order this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore:
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