My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Honestly, I feel generous with this rating. It was more a 2-star read in a lot of ways but since some of the stuff I didn’t like was more personal vs the actual writing I rounded up. Wendy Fairmont moves back to Cascade New Mexico after dumping her rich fiancé (losing all her friends in the process somehow) and selling her business and somehow Small Town NM has learned of the break up (and see it as a shame for some reason) and I’m not sure who told anyone as Wendy is moving into her recently deceased grandmother’s home and doesn’t really know anyone in her old home town any more (Maybe her semi-estranged parents and brother blabbed about it? We don’t know the drama there, but it’s hinted at)
Her move-in is blocked by the after-funeral gathering next door. She learns, her neighbor, Beverly has lost her golf-fanatic husband. To Wendy’s chagrin, the eccentric Beverly seems to embrace this as a new strange out from under his thumb and wants Wendy to do a photoshoot of her. (This is going to be Wendy’s new vocation, photographer). In the process Wendy learns a) that Beverly’s daughter and son in law are trying to have her declared non compos mentis so they can get her house and sell it and b) there appears to be blood stains all over the floor.
So that’s probably number one for me. Is Sheriff Grady so incompetent that a death from head injuries wasn’t investigated at all and who pulled the carpeting over the blood stains? Wendy isn’t interested in solving the mystery at first, more interested in keeping Beverly from being railroaded by her son in law. She also meets up with a few people she knew in High School: Jake, who had a crush on her and has gone from nerd to hot cyber security man, Jake’s sister Nancy who is her realtor and Sherry, mean girl from high school now Grady’s wife.
And that’s problem number two. We don’t know Wendy and Sherry’s past beefs with each other (especially since Wendy was a beauty queen and not another nerd being bullied) Sherry is definitely a bully and super catty but both of them act like they’re still fourteen to the point that a) Nancy calls Wendy on it and b) they were actually knocking each other down and flinging stuff at each other to get to the spinning bikes in a public gym. What thirty-year-old woman does that?
Far too much of this was given over to the childish, unexplained rivalry between the two women. It got to the point that Sheriff Grady was actually threatening her, and Jake based on things his wife had said and if I hadn’t been seventy percent through this I would have DNFed it. I won’t read cozies where the amateur sleuth is up against a sheriff/detective who actively doesn’t want them there (because let’s be honest, they could easily just arrest them for interfering with a police investigation). But weirdly enough, just a chapter or two later, he’s fine with her being there and she goes from ‘he’s an idiot’ to ‘it should be left in his hands’ with no explanation.
It wasn’t horrible but I’m not sure I’d read more of this. Wendy is far too immature for me. If you want to act like you’re still in high school, I have no way of connecting with you. And now for a minor spoiler (so look away if you don’t want to see)
Wendy and Jake know that Dale, Beverly’s son in law has faked evidence that she’s got dementia, so he can steal her house and that she might be in danger, it’s never followed up other than maybe the sheriff sent a guy to her daughter’s house where she is now. It’s like the author forgot to tie that up a bit.
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The Ghost of Marlow House by Bobbi Ann Johnson Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a 3.5 read for me but I was feeling generous. To get it out of the way, this is written in the omniscient point of view so there is head hopping.
Danielle Boatman has come from California with her friend Lily to take over a house she inherited and right off the bat you need to really suspend some of your disbelief because it’s been empty for ninety years with only a house keeper coming in once a week. It strains belief that a) the house is almost in move-in readiness because houses do break down especially unoccupied and b) that a lot of the furniture would still be usable for the B&B Danielle plans to open and all she has to do is reupholster them.
To be honest I have more trouble believing that than I do that the home is haunted. Danielle doesn’t know much about the house just that an aunt by marriage who lived in England left it to her. She has no idea why but after losing her cheating husband several months ago, she’s looking for something new to do.
Quickly she learns that Walt, the former owner is still in ghostly residence. We meet him first in fact, lost and confused looking for his beloved wife, Angela. They were newlyweds and now he can’t find her. Danielle isn’t too shocked to see him as she’s seen ghosts her whole life (Lily doesn’t know). As the days go on, Danielle’s conversations with Walt help to clear his memory and his relationship with Angela isn’t what it seems.
Danielle wants to send Walt on to his rest and that means solving his murder in spite of how far back in time it was. Not only that Walt might have been guilty of stealing a very important and expensive necklace from a movie star he loved. And others know about this necklace, believing it to be in the house. Danielle and Lily could be in a lot of danger.
It did get a bit repetitive but over all I liked Danielle and Walt (in spite of his 1920s ideas of what women can do). I’d probably read another one.
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