Monday, January 26, 2009
Ghost at Work
I originally wrote this review for Mystery News, but there had already been a published review of Hart's novel. Here's the review, in the format for that journal, rather than my normal style. Fun book!
Ghost at Work
by Caroline Hart
Bailey Ruth Raeburn died along with her husband when their cabin cruiser went down in the Gulf of Mexico. Although she enjoyed Heaven, she was ready to help someone in need, so she applied at the Department of Good Intentions. Wiggins, the station master, was waiting to send her back to earth, but put her on probation for her first assignment. Before he could go over the rules, called the Precepts, Bailey Ruth had to be dispatched to her hometown, Adelaide, Oklahoma, to help the rector’s wife.
Kathleen Abbott was standing over a dead body on the porch of the rectory when Bailey Ruth arrived. Since Kathleen was going to move the body, Bailey Ruth felt she had to break a Precept, revealing herself as a ghost, and scaring Kathleen. Kathleen never did grow comfortable with Bailey Ruth, but she desperately needed her assistance. On the other hand, Kathleen’s eleven-year-old daughter, Bayroo, could see Bailey Ruth, and was pleased to have a ghost around.
Bailey Ruth tried to help Kathleen, but the rector’s wife only seemed to dig herself in deeper as a murder suspect. Bailey Ruth found herself investigating the victim’s past, only to find that Daryl Murdoch was not popular in Adelaide, and had some very interesting pictures on the cell phone that Kathleen pitched into the water. Ghost at Work is a fun story with the ghosts, murder and blackmail.
Bailey Ruth is an enchanting character. Readers willing to suspend disbelief, and accept a ghost that investigates a murder, and interferes with the police investigation will probably enjoy Ghost at Work. Hart devised eight Precepts for ghosts, and Bailey Ruth broke four of the eight; revealing herself, becoming visible, allowing herself to be noticed, and alarming people. She’s a delightful characters who enjoys the new fashions, and is fascinated by new technology such as cell phones and computers. She’s thrilled when she finds out why she was the perfect choice to help Kathleen.
Hart’s characters are all interesting. I’d like to see more of Wiggins and Bayroo in future books. Readers who enjoy a fun mystery, with humor, suspense, and a ghost, will appreciate Hart’s latest book.