Monday, January 18, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian

by
A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery

Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7387-1380-5 (0738713805)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1380-9 (9780738713809)
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $14.95

Review: Sue Ann Jaffarian introduces soon-to-be-divorced Emma Whitecastle investigating a murder within her own family ... albeit from over 100 years ago ... and with a little help from an unexpected source ... in Ghost a la Mode.

"Would you believe our family tree harbors a murderer," Emma's mom says. "A woman who killed her husband. She was then promptly hung." The woman was Ish Reynolds, Emma's great-great-great-grandmother, who lived in the mountain town of Julian, northeast of San Diego. Julian, a former gold rush town, was always known for its apples, and Ish, famous for her apple pies, was affectionately called by all who knew her Granny Apples. But when her husband is shot and killed after claiming to find gold on their property, it was believed she had done the deed and she was hung in return. "Someone shot my man, Jacob, and hung me," Ish's ghost tells a very skeptical Emma. "I want to know who and why."

It would seem that the mystery genre hardly needs another ghost-from-the-past / person-in-the-present amateur sleuthing team, but Jaffarian elevates Ghost a la Mode above many of its peers by creating characters that are a little more sharply drawn, a little edgier, a little more, if you will, real. Still, the author's writing style seems to invite apparitional comparisons, breezy and animated yet subtle and nuanced. It's an interesting contrast between how the characters are defined (or maybe perceived is a better word to use here) and the narrative in which they develop. The storyline, to be sure, is hardly unique, nor is the predictable outcome, but that really isn't the point here; rather, it's a vehicle -- and an engaging one, at that -- in which to introduce Emma Whitecastle and the ghost of Granny Apples.

Initial doubts firmly vanquished, Ghost a la Mode is a strong introduction in what promises to be a delightfully (forgive the pun) spirited series.

Special thanks to Midnight Ink for providing a copy of Ghost a la Mode for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Granny was famous for her award-winning apple pies-and notorious for murdering her husband Jacob at their homestead in Julian, California. The only trouble is, Granny was framed, then murdered. For more than one hundred years, Granny's spirit has been searching for someone to help her see that justice is served—and she hits pay dirt when she pops in to a séance attended by her great-great-great-granddaughter, modern-day divorced mom Emma Whitecastle. Together, Emma and Granny Apples solve mysteries of the past—starting with Granny's own unjust murder rap in the final days of the California Gold Rush.

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