The Hostess With the Ghostess
The Hostess With the Ghostess is the ninth (!) in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series by E.J. Copperman, but it’s also an excellent starting point. Particularly since it’s moved to a new publisher (Crooked Lane Books) and is appearing in hardcover for the first time. A new reader can find out everything they need expressed through Copperman’s breezy narration as characters are introduced and events recapped, and a long-time reader will appreciate the reminders, since it has been a couple of years since the last installment.
Alison Kirby runs a guesthouse on the Jersey shore. (A guesthouse is like a bed & breakfast without the breakfast.) She’s assisted by her teen daughter; they both see ghosts. The two ghosts originally in the house were the snarky Maxie and the wannabe detective Paul. In return for Alison helping Paul solve murders, the spirits do shows for the guests, who are attracted by the idea of staying in a place that’s haunted.
In this book, Paul, after finally figuring out how to leave the location of his death, has gone traveling, but his snotty brother Richard has shown up, recently deceased. A lawyer, he’d been defending an heiress accused of drowning her stepfather in the bathtub. As events unfold, Alison tries to figure out who killed Richard, who killed the stepfather, and where Paul is.
I’ve enjoyed most of Copperman’s other mysteries I’ve read — he’s also responsible for the Asperger’s Mystery series, the Mysterious Detective series, and the Agent to the Paws mystery series — and this was no exception. Since it’s a paranormal cozy, the reader needs to be able to accept the presence of ghosts to enjoy the stories, but they have different personalities and a limitation on magic ways to solve problems.
It’s the character interactions that make the read enjoyable, as Alison alternately argues with or questions a variety of annoying suspects and supporting cast, including a medium, the woman running the local paper, and a police detective. The light-hearted humor keeps the read entertaining and moving along. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)