This first book in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series is a sweet, clever homage both to classic hard-boiled mystery detectives as well as the wonderful book (and film), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Ladytink's alluring reviews of the series pushed me over the edge, as usual, and I very much enjoyed this introduction to the books.
Penelope Thornton-McClure has moved to the picturesque small town of Quindicott, Rhode Island with her young son following the death of her husband. Her aunt owns a book shop there, which had been failing, but now Penelope is her partner, and things are looking up. In fact, Penelope is putting to good use the skills she learned during her previous career in the publishing industry to publicize the store, and she has managed to get a bestselling mystery novelist to come to the store to launch his latest book.
When a sudden death occurs at the book signing, Penelope is devastated. First because she thinks that it will ruin the store, and then because it looks as though the death is a murder - and she's on the list of suspects. To add to her fear and confusion, she's started hearing voices. Can it be that the voice is actually that of a P.I. who died in her store back in the 1940s? The same P.I. that the famous mystery writer's books are based on? If it's actually true, he might be the perfect partner in solving the murder before she ends up being arrested for a murder she did not commit.
At first I found Penelope a bit wishy washy, but as the story progressed it became clear why that was. Those reasons, once revealed, made me root for her as she began asserting herself - with the aid of the very pushy dead investigator, Jack Shepard, to bolster her courage. This first volume begins to explore the main characters, as well as the small town of Quindicott with its quirky cast of residents. I look forward to the further adventures of Penelope and Jack, particularly as their unique relationship continues to develop.
Books in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series:
1. The Ghost and Mrs. McClure
2. The Ghost and the Dead Deb
3. The Ghost and the Dead Man's Library
4. The Ghost and the Femme Fatale
5. The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion
The Ghost and Mrs. McClure (#1 in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series) by Alice Kimberly (Berkley Prime Crime, 2004)
Also reviewed at:
The Movieholic and Bibliophile's Blog: "Penelope Thornton-McClure (Pen for short), is a great character but what will really draw the readers in is Jack Shepard. He’s interesting and I love learning what he can do as a ghost..."
On My Bookshelf: "If the solution is a little pat, that was fine with me, because the Jack/Pen relationship sparkles, Quindicott, Rhode Island and its inhabitants are real and interesting, and the mystery is compelling enough."