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Among the Departed by Vicki Delany
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The Ghost and Mrs. McClure: 07/09/21

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly is the start of the Haunted Bookshop mystery series. Alice Kimberly is a different nom de plume for the couple who also writes as Cleo Coyle. To confuse matters more, the most recent book in the series was released with Coyle as the author.

Penelope Thornton-McClure has moved back home with her son to manage the family bookshop. They're hosting their first book signing. It's a mystery author who made a career out of writing a noir series based on a real life PI who was murdered at this very book shop.

To make things more interesting, the ghost of the dead PI, Jack, haunts the bookshop. Only Penelope can see or hear him. So she of course will end up being his gal Friday. Their first case together is the murder of the mystery author.

The book suffers from the same pitfalls of the early Coffee House mysteries, namely clichéd and often misogynistic descriptions and characterizations. Jack's entire character sheet is being a manly man from the 1950s. Penelope, though as modern woman (well a 2004 modern woman) is still overly concerned by the feminine vs masculine bogus binary.

But the worst part of the book was the audio performance. For reasons that escape me, two narrators were hired, one for Jack and one for Penelope. Penelope's chapters far outnumber Jack's and the woman reading her chapters does an excellent voice for Jack. The man hired to read Jack's chapter absolutely sucks at doing Penelope's voice. Her dialogue read by him is cringeworthy.

The second book is The Ghost and Dead Deb (2005).

Three stars

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