Phantoms and Felonies

Haunted Mansion Mystery #2

By Lucy Ness


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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


Avery Morgan has been hired to breathe new life into the Portage Path Women’s Club, but first she’ll have to deal with a dead body and a meddling ghost.

When a local theater troupe puts on a new play at the club, manager Avery Morgan is excited. This is just the sort of event that’s destined to bring in potential new members. Okay, millionaire banker Bob Hanover has more bucks than talent and has used his position to grab the lead role, but that seems like a small price to pay…until Bob is found dead backstage.

Bob rubbed many people the wrong way, but would anyone want him dead? The short answer to that is: Who wouldn’t want him dead? His long-suffering wife had to put up with years of womanizing. The show’s playwright has been tricked out of his one great idea by Bob, who claimed it as his own work. And Bob bankrupted one of the town’s small businessmen. The choices are many and the time to find the killer is running short.

Avery is working overtime to keep the club open and find the killer. Fortunately, she has help with the latter task. Clemmie Bow was once a singer in the speakeasy in the club’s basement. Now she’s a ghost who’s also a top-notch detective. Together Clemmie and Avery will find the killer—even if it kills one of them. (Goodreads)


I liked this sophomore entry in the Haunted Mansion Mystery series y Lucy Ness.  Phantoms and Felonies is full of likable characters and a delightful resident ghost and has a plausible mystery to unravel.

After the events of the series debut Haunted Homicide, The Portage Path Women’s Club is still in need of funding and a bit of an image makeover.  New manager Avery thinks that a murder mystery dinner is just the ticket to infuse the rather stuffy institution with new life.  When local banker Bob Hanover, the star of the play, is stabbed during the performance, and Avery’s aunt is caught with the murder weapon in hand, Avery cannot help but get involved with the investigation.  With a handful of suspects, all with good motives, to choose from she sets out to unmask the real killer.

The first book in the series spent a lot of time introducing the characters and setting the scene of the PPWC but Phantoms and Felonies jumps right into the story.  It can easily be read as a standalone.  My favorite aspect of this series is the relationship that has developed between Avery and Clemmie Bow.  A flapper era ghost tied to the mansion because she died in the illegal basement speakeasy is a wonderful premise, and slang-spouting Clemmie is a hoot.  She makes a few appearances throughout the story, but I want more of her.  Avery is a capable, likable protagonist.  I like that she works with the police, not against them.  Her open involvement investigating with Oz is a bit farfetched, but it works well in this setting.  The ladies associated with the Women’s Club are varied, and a couple are downright unpleasant snobs.  Avery’s Aunt Rosemary is over-the-top but entertaining.

The mystery is well thought out and executed.  Though there are only a few suspects, the clues kept me guessing about the killer’s identity until late in the tale.  Ness’s writing is lighthearted and breezy, and I enjoyed my time in Avery’s world.  Phantoms and Felonies is a solid installment with what I hope will be a long running series.  I recommend it to cozy readers, especially for fans of the paranormal.