Skeleton in the Closet

Main Characters:

Verity – ex-bride-to-be turned ghost seer.  Really a graphics designer who gets roped into trying to rid a property of some ghosts so she can earn the money she needs to keep her Grandmother’s house (and her home) from being sold to pay off the debt that resulted from her calling off her wedding at the last minute.

Ellis – brother of Verity’s ex.  Town police officer and owner of the property which used to be a distillery.  Not anything like his jerk of a brother.  Sort of dating Verity in secret.

Frankie – first ghost Verity met.  He is bound to her property and he helps connect Verity to the spirit world in an attempt to keep her house.

Melody – Verity’s sister.  She works for the town library and is a super researcher.

Lucy – Verity’s pet skunk.

Virginia Wydell – Ellis’s and Beau’s mother

Josephine Hatcher – ghost who inhabits the Hatcher property (along with her Ma, who is one angry ghost)

NEW CHARACTERS:

Matthew Jackson – new ghost.  From TN but he, when alive, joined the Northern Army and is considered a Yankee by the other ghosts.

Montgomery Silas – Wrote a book on the Battle of Sugarland.  Library historical expert.  Working with Virginia Wydell on the documentary that is to be made about the Battle and the “Ball in the Wall” festival.

Darla Grace – our victim, murdered while working in the library on the exhibit for the festival.  Turns out she found out that Maisie Hatcher was the real heir to the Wydell money and a reference to a bible which would tell the truth about the Battle, and that it wasn’t really something to celebrate.

Locations: Sugarland, Tennessee

Main Premise:  Verity has lost everything because of an “incident” – she left her ex-fiance at the alter because he was a cheating abusive (not to her, but to Verity’s sister) jerk.  And she got stuck with the bill for the wedding.  And she is in dire straights because of it – she’s about to loose her house.  She sold all her possessions and dumped the ashes found in an urn on her rosebushes.  She discovered Frankie, the ghost of a 1920s gangster whose ashes she grounded on her property when she dumped, then watered, them.  In this installment she is looking to help Ellis solve Darla’s murder.

Who dun it?  Montgomery Silas!  It was solved one Verity realized that she might be able to find the bible, which was the real reason for Darla’s murder (Maisie’s status was important but really a red herring with respect to the murder), in the Hatchet House.  And, it was being held by the skeleton in the closet of the room that Ma haunted most heavily.  (Pa was the skeleton, he was holding the bible.)

How it ended:  Montgomery shot Ellis and Verity and then left them in the old Haunted Hatcher place, with it burning, to die.  But, Matthew’s ghost helps them escape and Ellis and Verity take Montgomery down.  The documentary still airs, the movie is cancelled and Maisie is acknowledged (although Verity is sure Virginia will fight it), and Matthew tells Verity that to unground Frankie they need to find the one thing Frankie treasures above all else and place it with his urn.

Other important things to remember for later:  Rules of this universe let Verity see the ghosts by “using” Frankie’s (or another ghosts) energy.  It take a strong ghost to materialize, even more to do so in the day.  Poltergeists are super angry pissed off ghosts.  Frankie is stuck to his urn until Verity can figure out a way to “un-ground” the rest of his ashes from her rosebushes.  But Matthew might have the way out.  The ghosts Matthew and Josephine are an item – and Matthew resides in the basement of the library.  Ma Hatchet moved on but Pa roams the woods.  And Ellis and Verity are much more of an item by the end!

Review:

There can be no such thing as too much Southern Spirits!

Gangsters, ghosts, murders, a pissed of passive-aggressive would-have-been-mother-in-law, a hunky police officer, and a pet skunk.  What could be better?  The second (full length anyway) installment of the Southern Ghost Hunter series was another awesome little paranormal cozy!  And I can’t wait to read the third!

As a reminder, Verity, a girl hard on her luck because of a jerk of an ex-fiance, saw her life change in the first book when she dumped an urn full of the ashes of a 1920s gangster on her rose bushes. The gangster ghost, Frankie, is grounded to her and her property. In this installment, her town of Sugarland is preparing for an annual festival that will be filmed for a documentary about the Civil War – the “Ball in the Wall” (love that name!).  Frankie is still funny, Verity still doesn’t really shy from danger and is she is still sarcastic and witty (although not quite as much or as often here), the dialogue between characters is amusing and feels real. Melody, Verity’s sister is a great tool for info (she’s the Hermoine of this story, being the resident librarian) and Ellis is the hunk police officer who asks Verity for help investigating the murder.

This installment stayed true to the recipe for the cozy, even the paranormal type.  There was a lot going on, some misdirection (but I love that the misdirection headed down the “Virginia did it” road was really fun because of the history between Virginia and Verity), some mayhem, and a lucky discovery or two.  And what makes it even more fun is the ghostly element – there’s enough to keep things ever so slightly creepy but not so much that this isn’t something that can be read while smiling the entire time.  The “southern” way of making sure someone knows they are unwelcome, all with a smile, was on full display here.  And it was awe.some.!!!  And, if I were paying more attention, some of the details wouldn’t have been surprising because the title is pretty meaningful (**hint, hint**) here.

I love everything Verity that I have read so far, and hope there are many many encores!

 

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