My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this one for Book Bingo spot a book your friend loves. At least I thought this was the one she said. Ah well. Anyhow, this is a bizarre mix of cozy and hard boiled detective. Penelope Thornton-McClure has returned to Rhode Island to help out her aunt Sadie's failing brick and mortar mystery book store. Pen has been in NYC working in publishing and hating it. Also her blue blood husband (who also has ties to the RI town of Quindicott) had recently committed suicide and her wealthy conniving in-laws are trying to get her son Spenser to live with them. This remains a vague threat throughout the book.
Pen renames the bookstore based on a tagline from her son who came up with 'by the book' since it sells mystery but she changed it to Buy the Book (frankly I think her son's suggestion was better). She gets Timothy Brennan, a hard boiled detective author, to come to her store and the very unpleasant man keels over dead before the book signing even begins. (and this makes her store uber popular, almost too much so to be believed). Just before he died he announced that he was going to do non-fiction about the murder of Jack Shepard, a detective in the 40s who was killed in the store according to Brennan.
He has that right. Jack is in the store as a ghost and Pen can hear him. After spending several chapters disbelieving him, she buys into it and that she is a suspect and needs his help. Frankly I found that very thin. Why would anyone think she killed Brennan? Yes her store profited but who could have predicted that. Actually thin is good to describe this whole novel and the characters (really it's more of a 2.5 for me but it wasn't that horrible and very quick to read).
It's mostly first person pov with Pen but we have a few chapters from Jack's pov in third person including one that could be interpreted as dream ghost sex with him and Pen that was just odd. It's not a bad read. I'd probably get another from the library but I also don't see me clamoring for the next in the series with any real enthusiasm. (especially if the worn out 'my rich in-laws are trying to steal my kid' trope keeps getting recycled).
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