Friday, January 23, 2009

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly

While perusing my local B&N, I randomly pulled a book off the shelf and found myself holding The Ghost and Mrs. McClure

A mystery that's part Sam Spade and part Ghost and Mrs. Muir (loved that movie), it takes place in a bookstore haunted by a ghost who's bound to the store thanks to his murder over 60 years previously.

Penelope Thornton-McClure escaped her deceased husband's family and moved in with her aunt in a small town on the east coast. When she's not deflecting her former in-laws, she's enduring the town's hyperactive councilwoman, and trying to make a dying bookstore live again. On her first big author appearance, the obnoxious Timothy Brennan falls over dead during his presentation bringing instant fame to the bookstore and Pen's first murder mystery. 

Years earlier, Jack Shepherd entered the store while on a case and was murdered. The murder remains unsolved and Jack's spirit remains within the store. 

Well, guess what? Brennan was Jack Shepherd's nemesis in real life and used Shepherd's notoriety to build his writing career. So, I'm guessing, this is the reason why Jack is able to communicate with Pen and assist her in solving the mystery behind Brennan's death.

The romantic tension between Jack and Pen works well and it's interesting that while Jack communicates in Pen's mind, Pen can visit Jack in his time through her dreams. The interaction of the two characters bring to mind the interaction of the Captain and Mrs. Muir (which obviously served as the inspiration of the novel).

The book is light and an American version of the cozy. It won't change anyone's life, but it will make a lovely diversion on a rainy afternoon.