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Why We Love Ghostly Sleuths

IN THE October 23 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andFantasy & Fangs,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Mary Kennedy

There’s something intriguing about solving mysteries from the great beyond. Just ask Carolyn Hart, Cleo Coyle, and Gayle Leeson, three popular mystery authors who include a ”ghostly sleuth” in their long-running series.

Carolyn Hart didn’t start the craze, but she’s certainly a master of the game (and a Grand Mastery of Mystery) with her Bailey Ruth novels. Ghost Blows a Kiss is the tenth installment in her series about an amusing and vivacious ghostly sleuth. Here’s how it works: Bailey Ruth returns to earth whenever she receives an assignment from Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions. Sometimes Bailey Ruth has no clear direction on what her mission is about, but occasionally she lands right smack in the middle of an emergency.

In Ghost Blows a Kiss, she finds herself in Adelaide, Oklahoma, to rescue a woman drowning in a pool. That’s the jumping off point for the mystery that follows, and as always, there’s a lot at stake. An innocent person will be charged in a murder if Bailey Ruth doesn’t win this one.

Emissaries from heaven are supposed to be discreet in assisting the local police. Acting police chief Howie Harris is described as “not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” and Bailey Ruth can run circles around him. Bailey Ruth can teleport, change her clothes, and go anywhere, any time. Right always triumphs in the end, which is a trademark of Carolyn Hart’s novels.

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait. Readers familiar with the series are happy to see the return of Detective Jack Shepard. Jack is a gumshoe from the 1940s, and blends his memories with Penelope’s dreams, taking her with him back to his world. Their chemistry is unmistakable. Jack is smart, tough, observant, with an endless supply of wisecracks. There’s always a thread in the present-day murder that connects with one of Jack’s cases from the past.

Unlike Bailey Ruth, who descends from heaven, Jack is the resident ghost in the bookshop, forever entombed there. The only time he can leave is when he inserts himself into Penelope’s dreams and their adventure in crime-solving begins. The playful banter is an integral part of the book and the two work as a team. Penelope struggles with 1940’s slang, just as Jack struggles with modern day slang. Jack is the ghost of a detective murdered in the shop decades ago, and has been there ever since. Pen is the only one who can see him. This is the seventh release in The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries and fans are eagerly waiting for more.

Buttons and Blows by Gayle Leeson, introduces us to Maxine Engelbright, known as “Max,” the resident ghost in The Ghostly Fashionista Mysteries. When Amanda Tucker opens a vintage fashion shop in a space at the Shops on Main, she has no idea she’ll be visited by Max, who offers wry humor and keen insights about the other characters.

Most people can’t see Max, and the only evidence of her ghostly presence is a cold spot near her. Max is quite a modern ghost, with a tablet that allows her to read, stream content, and video chat. Amanda describes Max to her friends as “sweet” and “loads of fun,” urging them to get past the fact that she’s dead. In Buttons and Blows, Amanda finds herself dealing with a second ghost who uses a typewriter to communicate. With engaging characters and tightly woven plots, this series is another reader favorite.

Ghostly sleuths are here to stay, offering an otherworldly escape for cozy mystery fans. They add a whole new dimension to the plot, provide a wry commentary on life on earth, and quickly become reader favorites.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new Halloween episode went up this week and another one goes up next week.



Mary Kennedy is a licensed psychologist in private practice in the northeast and the author of nearly fifty novels, including young adult novels and mysteries. She’s currently working on The Talk Radio Mysteries, a series set in south Florida and the Dream Club Mysteries, set in Savannah. You can read about her website www.marykennedy.net.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

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