Ghost on the Case
Bailey Ruth, Book #8
By Carolyn Hart
Author’s website: carolynhart.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Bailey Ruth Raeburn is back, racing against the Heavenly clock in an all-new mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Times Two.
Bailey Ruth finds herself comforting a distraught sister when she’s sent to Adelaide, Oklahoma, on her latest mission. Susan Gilbert receives a $100,000 ransom demand for her younger sibling. When the caller wants Susan to pay a visit to her wealthy boss and take the cash from his safe, Bailey Ruth follows Susan to the home. But she finds herself in a quandary, knowing that robbery is hardly a Heavenly pursuit.
While Susan waits to hear back from the kidnappers, Bailey Ruth attempts to piece together how the criminals targeted Susan and how they know about her boss’s money. At a luncheon the previous week, Susan’s boss asked her to open the safe so all the attendees knew it was filled with cash. Could one of the rich man’s closest confidants be behind the abduction?
Bailey Ruth is positive she can use her detective skills to figure out which luncheon guest arranged the kidnapping. But an unexpected twist in the case soon has Bailey Ruth seeking a murderer who has plans to send more victims to the great beyond.
Bailey Ruth must have been a force of nature when she was alive, since she is a tenacious ghost … um…emissary on a mission! It takes a very creative mind to not only plan a novel in this series, but to do so at times with tongue in cheek, bringing humor to even the little situations while not making light of the big ones. Carolyn Hart has long been a masterful cozy mystery writer, with amazing ideas for Bailey Ruth plot twists to keep many armchair sleuths challenged.
Bailey Ruth and her late hubby are enjoying their heavenly break at the beach; she is looking forward to opening a new hard-boiled novel when she hears from Wiggins with a new dispatch to her former home of Adelaide, Oklahoma. Wiggins appears stern and makes sure the emissaries follow their Precepts, yet when Bailey Ruth fudges a bit on one of them, things work out better. Wiggins isn’t sure if it might already be too late for the young lady he is sending her to, but he will always try. Bailey Ruth will always give it her all.
Susan works for one of the wealthiest men in Adelaide, one who takes pride on being a self-made man, Wilbur Fitch. When Bailey Ruth slips into her home, she hears Susan’s side of a ransom demand call for her beloved younger sister Sylvie. After telling the caller she doesn’t have the kind of money he is demanding, the caller tells her that she has the code to the safe where Mr. Fitch has that amount. The door from Fitch’s study to the outside would be open, and the caller would call again at 12:00. Bailey Ruth rides silently with a panicked Susan, then follows her to the Fitch mansion where a party is going on. Susan slips into the study, gets the box of cash, and returns home. When the return call doesn’t happen, Bailey Ruth finally appears to the despairing woman. What a shock to Susan! To her credit, she is willing to try anything, even listen to a gh– emissary.
They made a list of five men who knew Susan could get into the safe. That includes an employee, a long-time best friend of Fitch, Fitch’s attorney, his stepson, and his son. When Susan finally went to sleep, Bailey Ruth went to Sam Cobb’s, the chief of police’s, office, and used his computer to research the men. The next morning, Bailey Ruth accompanies Susan to work. Unfortunately, the police are at the mansion, and Mr. Fitch is dead. Murdered, with his valuable coin collection missing. When Susan gives the box of cash to the police, she is the main suspect for both crimes. Sylvie returns, after following what she thinks is a Psych class assignment – someone is making Susan the patsy!
Susan and Sylvie are engaging characters; this reader definitely wants to see justice done! Bailey Ruth is winsome; if I were in trouble, I would want her on my side! Susan and Bailey Ruth are both very well defined as fitting their characters. It is interesting to hear Bailey Ruth describe the outfits she wears, and I wonder if she was as colorful when alive. I am happy to see Sam Cobb, the police chief who works together so well with Bailey Ruth. I love how he sometimes notices she is in his office when he sees chalk writing on the board, and how he is willing to listen to her in spite of the ire of the mayor, Neva Lumpkin. Each of the men suspected of the murder seem to have motive, and a couple I just didn’t like.
The prose sings with descriptions of feelings and scenes that bring the town of Adelaide and its residents to life! One of my favorite lines is “Her eyes held a glow, the kind of radiance that shines from good memories, a kind word, a smile, and from anticipation that no matter how dark the sky there is a sliver of light on the horizon and faith that the light will grow and grow and soon there will be an explosion of brightness”. Maybe that is one of the things I like most about Bailey Ruth and those she helps – even if she loses her confidence, the person she is helping doesn’t know it. Even Susan, while sitting in jail, is able to focus on what is good in her life. I had a hard time trying to figure out who the bad guy is as I followed a few red herrings. I was happy overall with the novel, including the final resolution. I highly recommend Ghost on the Case, especially to those who appreciate very well written cozy mysteries that are challenging, humorous, and suspenseful.