The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller
Haunted Bookshop Mystery #6
By Cleo Coyle
A big bestseller leads to small town trouble.
Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure didn’t believe in ghosts, until she was haunted by the hard-boiled spirit of 1940s private investigator Jack Shepard. Now Jack is back on the job, and Pen is eternally grateful…
After an elegant new customer has a breakdown in her shop, Penelope suspects there is something bogus behind the biggest bestseller of the year. This popular potboiler is so hot that folks in her tiny Rhode Island town are dying to read it–literally. First one customer turns up dead, followed by another mysterious fatality connected to the book, which Pen discovers is more than just fiction. Now, with the help of her gumshoe ghost, Pen must solve the real-life cold case behind the bogus bestseller before the killer closes the book on her. (Goodreads)
Talk about having to wait for the next book in a series to come out – fans of the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries have stood by for almost ten years for The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller, and it is definitely worth the wait. Though it is the sixth book in the series, new readers to the series should have no trouble catching up with bookseller Pen and her 1940’s era PI Jack.
The town is abuzz with talk of the latest best seller, a steamy thriller, but when a customer acts strangely in response to seeing the author’s photo and is later found dead, Pen cannot help but think the Emma’s death is somehow related to the book. When she learns of a local professor’s dubious demise, her mind turns to possible connections to Emma and the book. Proving the connection is another matter, especially since no one knows really penned the story. The tale is as much about discovering the identities of the ghostwriters as it is the murders. Pen knows time is running out when her close friend almost dies, and she and Jack investigate to learn the truth.
Since I enjoy paranormal cozies, I find the premise of this series delightful. Pen is the only person who can hear or see Jack, and they make a wonderful investigative team. The chemistry between the two brings a nice complexity to the tale without being too creepy. Pen is intelligent and persistent in her sleuthing with Jack along for the ride to provide a different perspective when needed and seasoned experience. He is the most developed character and is so authentic with his decades old mindset and vernacular.
As much fun as the modern storyline is, I am most impressed by the “dream” sequences that reflect Jack’s cases. The vivid descriptions bring these passages to life, and they are full of excitement and peril. The investigation of the murders and the mysteries surrounding the book are well thought out with plenty of revelations and red herrings along the way. I did not see one twist coming at all, and it is always nice to not have it all figured out and be surprised near the end.
I am so glad to see Pen and Jack back in action and hope there are many more adventures to come. I enjoyed The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller and recommend it to any cozy fan who enjoys a side of ghost with their main dish of murder.