Hamptons Home and Garden Mysteries, Book #3
By Kathleen Bridge
Author Website: kathleenbridge.com
In the latest mystery from the author of Better Homes and Corpses and Hearse and Gardens, Hamptons interior designer and antiques picker Meg Barrett uncovers a veil of spooky goings-on…
The first Sag Harbor Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair is right around the corner, and interior designer Meg Barrett has her hands full decorating rooms at the Bibliophile Bed & Breakfast for wealthy rare book collector Franklin Hollingsworth. Rumor has it Hollingsworth is in possession of an unpublished manuscript written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When the Fitzgerald manuscript’s authenticator is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, Meg suspects a killer is on the loose.
Rare books start disappearing from the B & B and Meg sees a connection between the stolen books and the deceased authenticator. With the fair looming, she finds herself caught up in catching a killer and thief before another victim is booked for death. INCLUDES RECIPES AND DECORATING TIPS (from Goodreads)
Ghostal Living is exciting and suspenseful, drawing me in at the start and keeping my attention throughout. This third novel novel in the Hampton Home and Garden Mystery series can be read as a standalone, as the author shares just the right amount of info to acquaint us with the characters as they share a tantalizing glimpse of life in the Hamptons.
Meg has new challenges as a hurricane is heading towards Long Island. It was aimed in the direction of the cottage she has recently purchased in Montauk and even closer to the borrowed yacht she is living on. Said yacht is rocking and rolling more than Bill Haley and his Comets, sending Meg and her recently adopted Maine Coon Cat, Jo, running to the Bibliophile B & B in Sag Harbor.
The Bibliophilie is a place that I would happily run to if I had the spare $800 per night to visit! Meg knows it well, an ornate Victorian mansion that has been recently renovated. Meg, the one-woman interior design whiz of Cottages by the Sea designed and completed all except the Emily Dickinson Loft, which is almost complete. Since it isn’t quite ready yet, Franklin Hollingsworth and his niece, Brenna, who manages the B & B, will let her stay there through the upcoming Sag Harbor Antiquarian and Ephemera Fair and it’s kickoff 1920’s themed party thrown by Franklin’s eccentric brother Ollie. The B & B is not officially open; Franklin has hand-picked special guests for this special weekend. Franklin will publicly show the manuscript he recently purchased for a cool $5,000,000 for his collection. It has been authenticated as a previously unpublished, recently discovered short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
On the day of the hurricane, Randall McAfee, the manuscript’s authenticator and a weekend guest, disappeared and the next day his body is found below a cliff, next to a condemned house on the property. Something isn’t quite right, however. He is about to be honored at the gala and left nothing behind that would evidence he was suicidal, so his death is thought to be accidental.
There are so many good suspects! Based on Meg’s time spent with staff at the mansion, the guests, Franklin and his wife, Violet, there could be any number of motives. Meg’s best friend Elle is dating the detective in charge, Arthur Shoner, who doesn’t want Meg playing sleuth. Unusual events, thefts, and sudden illnesses occur, and Franklin, his butler and his butler’s sister seem to change their opinions of Meg for the worse. Could they honestly suspect her of the thefts, even murder? Or was there really a ghost in residence, as suggested by one person?
Meg and the author’s love of classic American literature is obvious as there are quotes of their favorite novels. There is much more to Meg and best friend Elle than meets the eye, and I thoroughly enjoy both of them. I love almost any mystery that has a cat in a starring role, in this case we get to watch Meg grow to appreciate the gorgeous Miss Josephine. Most characters, especially the guests and staff at the Bibliophile, are not who they seem to be; some seem like snobs and many are simply odd. Those most ‘real’ are Meg, Elle, Meg’s father’s best friend and retired Detroit coroner Doc and his best fishing buddy and new millionaire, Sully, who found the Fitzgerald manuscript. The characters are designed with care, and all with the exception of Meg and Elle, who are three-dimensional, are defined as thoroughly as necessary for their role.
The novel is fast-paced with twists and turns that roil up the plot just as the hurricane roiled up the waters off of Montauk. It is witty and suspenseful, and sprinkled with wisdom from the classics loved by Franklin and Meg. There are a few very good suspects. One suspect was simply not someone worth being in relationship with. Others were given wrong information that change their outlook. I was partially surprised when finding out who the bad guy(s)/ gal(s) were when the resolution takes place against the background of another terrible storm. The end is more than satisfactory, with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend Ghostal Living to those who like cozy mysteries that are well-written and full of surprises with likable protagonists and an assortment of eccentric characters and suspects.