Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris, have finally opened their bed and breakfast after some trouble with a skeleton and a fire. Now they have their first set of guests, the elderly members of a book club who live near Portland.
This kick off week is going to be great! They have a new assistant, Cindi, to help with serving breakfast and cleaning the rooms while Melanie and Liza do the cooking. Cindi even gets her boyfriend to be a magician for their Halloween party. It’s going to be a great event.
But when one of their guests falls through sabotaged railings on the balcony, the local lead detective arrives at the Merry Ghost Inn with his usual gruff demeanor (Liza calls him “Grumpy”). He warns Melanie and Liza to stay out of his case. But they need their B&B to succeed. That means solving the mystery and getting their home and business back to normal. And they have their resident ghost, Orville, to help them again.
This is the first Merry Ghost Inn book – book 2 in the series – I have read. It was easy to get into the story even without having read book one. Most of the action centered around their current guests, which will change with each book. The locals who are likely series regulars are well-defined in the story, even for a second book, so I was able to dig into the story right away. I like this because it means anyone can pick up the series and feel at home even if they didn’t get to the books in order.
The mystery was good. From the start there were several suspects but few clues to start eliminating anyone. I was eventually able to figure out the solution before the end, which is always satisfying.
I liked the main characters, but I didn’t click with them. They are completely likable; I have no complaints. I just didn’t feel drawn into their lives. Maybe that is the draw back of reading book 2 before the first one. Maybe I would have felt more connected by being introduced to the characters in the introduction to the series.
There are some interesting story lines that are laid out and go beyond this particular book, arching through the entire series. But I’m not sure I was hooked enough into the characters to come back to see how those threads work out. I have read paranormal stories before, but the ghost hook here didn’t grab my attention. I wasn’t turned off by it, or by the “seance” in the story, but those pieces didn’t distinguish this story for me from others in the genre. Again, I wonder if this is a drawback of starting with book two. The characters and the ghostly pieces might work better for readers who start from the beginning of the series.
Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.