by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of Ghost of a Gamble at the end of this review.
Apparently being ashamed of one’s parent is a universal sentiment, and even a world-famous world-famous psychic medium such as Milo Ravenscroft isn’t immune. Perhaps he can be forgiven for not exactly approving of his showgirl-turned-fortune-telling mother, as having no powers herself and his own going on the fritz whenever they are together, Dolly Ravenscroft has never fully believed in his abilities.
In truth though, it is the crackdown by Las Vegas law enforcement on con-men and scammers that really concerns Milo. So while Dolly admires what she thinks has been his prosperous career of pretense, Milo is not too surprised that when her own house becomes haunted, Dolly asks for the help instead of his mentee, Emma Whitecastle. Emma’s successful career as the host of a very popular paranormal television show has been enabled by her ability to communicate with ghosts, a gift that she developed under Milo’s tutelage.
Dolly’s first clue that her house had a spectral inhabitant came when the infant she was babysitting became eerily fascinated with an overhead light “Lenny the Lightbulb,” whether the light was turned on or off. That name might be cute, but when Emma overhears a whisper of “Nemo,” a darker connection arises when it is linked to Nelson Morehouse, a mobster from the Sixties who was believed to have been behind a casino robbery where one Leonard Speidel escaped with millions. Coincidence?
Of course, with the ghost of Emma’s great-great-great grandmother Ish Reynolds, better known as Granny Apples, involved, nothing is ever a coincidence and nothing ever what it seems. What began with a haunted light fixture soon becomes a complex and sinister plot involving kidnapping and murder literally orchestrated from beyond the grave.
After two novellas that focused on Emma’s daughter Kelly and her experience with the ghostly, Jaffarian returns to Emma and her struggles being in a relationship with Phil Bowers. It’s a situation that is definitely not helped when sexy Indiana Jones-esque archaeologist, Dr. Quinn Keenan, reappears in her life to act as her assistant.
Granny Apples is eccentric without being irritating, and her often unwanted opinions and intrusions are motivated by her love of her female descendants. Her assistance as a spectral spy and conduit plays an integral part in the investigations but never dominates the plot. It’s always enjoyable and refreshing to follow a strong heroine who grows and has learned from past mistakes (see ex-husband and gossip television host Grant), and Emma’s humor, good-nature and need to care for those she sees as vulnerable makes her both relatable and a delight. The author has fun exploring the notorious days of Las Vegas and readers are in for an entertaining treat that successfully mixes the complexities of adult relationships, the paranormal, and a sinisterly complex crime.
To enter to win a copy of Ghost of a Gamble, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Gamble,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 12, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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