4 star rating
Ghost of a Gamble
 A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery, Book 4
Sue Ann Jaffarian
ISBN# 9780425262177
Author’s Website:

Brought to You by OBS reviewer Mary

*Beware of Spoilers*


ghost-of-a-gamble-ghost-of-granny-smith-mystery-sue-ann-jaffarianSpiritual medium Emma Whitecastle knows a good ghost when she feels one—like her own sweet Granny Apples, long gone but still as famous for her apple pies as she is for helping her great-great-great-granddaughter get to the core of the most baffling mysteries…

When Emma gets word of a sticky spirit problem in Las Vegas, she and the ghost of Granny Apples hit the road for Sin City. The spooked one is Dolly, a former showgirl. Dolly is haunted by Lenny, a dead Vegas hood worried about an aging mobster named Nemo coming after the leggy old bombshell. Dolly’s playing dumb, but Emma’s making a blind bet that she knows more about Nemo than she admits.

When Nemo is found dead, Dolly goes missing—and lands herself on a short list of suspects. Emma, Granny, and their pals comb Las Vegas to find her, only to discover the truth behind a casino heist gone bad, a hidden stash of stolen loot, and a missing wise guy who’s not letting death come between him and setting things straight. And Emma and Granny Apples aren’t about to fold until they save Dolly’s neck and put her past to rest. (Goodreads)


Milo Ravenscroft, a fellow medium and Emma Whitecastle’s mentor, asks her to come to Las Vegas and assist his mother Dolly with a ghostly problem.  Accompanying her is the ghost of her great-great-great grandmother Ish Reynolds, also known as Granny Apples. Milo and his fiancée Tracy Bass, who is Emma’s best friend, are visiting his mother and Emma is curious why Milo can’t take care of the situation.

The opening of the book is rather amusing as Emma watches Nicolas, a toddler Dolly is babysitting; continually stare at the light in Dolly’s kitchen. It’s revealed that Dolly has a spirit that resides in the light, whom Nicholas can apparently see.  Dolly has named this spirit Lenny the Lightbulb. When questioned why she named him Lenny, Dolly is evasive and Emma suspects she knows more about the spirit that she’s willing to reveal.

After much coaxing, Lenny appears and asks, “Did Nemo’s boys send you?”  Dolly again claims not to know what Lenny is talking about. Lenny is a timid and none too bright spirit, apparently the same as he was in life. He, too, knows more than he’s willing to tell, even when other lives are in danger.

Emma later visits Laura Crawford, another fortune teller who Dolly considers a rival. Emma appeared to Laura in dream. Laura also senses Granny nearby. Laura tells Emma that she will be caught between two spirits who’ll have a conflict because of unfinished business. One of those spirits is crossing over as they speak. She also predicts Nemo’s boys will come for Emma. To all this, Granny replies, “Holy crap!” Granny’s colorful declarations are a hoot and add levity no matter the situation.

Soon Emma discovers that Dolly has visited an old man named Nelson Morehead, aka Nemo, in a rest home. He’s an old mobster involved in drugs and gambling who dies the same night Dolly visited.  Dolly thus becomes suspect number one in his death. When Madeline dies the same night, it’s too much to hope it’s only a coincidence, especially since Dolly has disappeared.  Emma later discovers that Madeline is privy to some of Dolly and Lenny’s secrets. On another visit, Emma connects with a ghost at the facility who provides valuable information regarding Nemo’s death and the robbery.

Nemo’s ghost appears at Dolly’s hunting for Lenny. Lenny and Nemo were accused of robbing the Lucky Buck casino but it could never be proven. Nemo claims Lenny has something that belongs to him and if he doesn’t turn it over, someone will die. When Laura disappears, Emma suspects she was taken for her abilities as a medium.

One of the investigators of the murder is John Foster, the father of the toddler Dolly babysits. Emma eventually confides to him about Lenny the Lightbulb and her ghostly encounters with his and Nemo’s ghost. Though skeptical, he agrees to check into some of her information. Later, Emma finds suspicious connections about Det. John Foster and his partner, Det. Howard Garby.

A subplot involves Emma’s relationship with her current boyfriend, Phil Bower, and Dr. Quinn Kennan, an archeologist friend to whom she is attracted.  She runs into Quinn who is in Las Vegas for a friend’s bachelor party. Quinn insists on staying around and helping her with the investigation. This causes bouts of jealousy on Phil’s part and he comes Vegas to assist in the investigation and keep an eye on Quinn.

Many of the characters have ties to the main mystery and it gets a little difficult to keep track. However, the mystery did keep me guessing. There was a good deal of info on Dolly’s younger days and a revelation that impacts Milo’s life. The plot, while probably unbelievable to most, was rather ingenious, and a clever ploy that worked for the paranormal nature of this series.

My biggest problem with this latest book was the little we hear of Granny Apples. I look forward to her appearances with anticipation of many chuckles. However, Granny spent most of her time being sent off to track suspects and search for Dolly and Laura. Her wistfully wishing to ride a zip line and meet Stokes from CSI was amusing. Watching old black and white movies gives her the impression she’s a crime fighter and adds to her antics. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to fight much crime in this episode. I also like the interaction between her and Emma and we didn’t get much of that in this book. I hope this won’t become a trend. Despite this shortcoming, I enjoyed the book. It was well written, absorbing, and we were given further insight into the lives of the characters.

For those who like a touch of the paranormal and some humor in their mystery, I would highly recommend this book.

*OBS would like to think the publisher for supplying a print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*