Juliet Blackwell successfully blends house renovation and ghosts in her latest paranormal mystery, Murder on the House. Mix that with a strong heroine who doesn't pretend to be fearless, and an offbeat cast of characters, add a pinch of humor, and toss in history of the San Francisco area. That's the recipe for an entertaining mystery.
Mel Turner has a well-earned reputation for restoring and renovating historic homes in the San Francisco Bay area. But, she's a little nonplussed at her growing reputation as "California's most promising up-and-coming Ghost Hunter." However, that ghost hunter reputation is the one that caught the eye of a couple who hope to renovate an alleged haunted house and turn it into a haunted bed-and-breakfast. Mel and her competing contractor only have to spend one night in the house. Marty and Kim Propak, the prospective owners, hope Mel can see ghosts. Mrs. Bernini, the owner, has lived with the ghosts for years. And, Mel, who spoke to the young girl who answered the door, hadn't realized she had just talked to the ghost of Anabelle Bowles, a young girl who died in the house.
Mel's still so uneasy about her ability to communicate with ghosts that she brings two friends with her to the house. Her competing contractor, Josh Avery, doesn't believe there are ghosts in the house. But, even he is a little surprised at the weird occurrences in the nursery. However, he's not around when Mel sees someone she didn't expect to see, the ghost of someone who was alive just a short time earlier in the house. Mel and her team realize there was a murder in the gardens, just when they were caught up in the antics in the nursery. Mel's confusion and anger turn to determination to find the killer and solve the mystery of the earlier deaths in the house.
Who can resist Mel Turner, the self-proclaimed misanthrope with a desire to run off to Paris? She just can't resist needy souls and has to find a way to help them, whether it's a ghost in search of answers to a death, or an immigrant worker with a bad boss. Mel, her family and friends are delightful additions to the mystery field.
Murder on the House is the third book in the Haunted Home Renovation series. Even if you haven't read previous books in the series, don't hesitate to pick up this one. Juliet Blackwell capably introduces readers to the cast and story. However, I am including one warning. Do not read the Acknowledments before reading the book. Blackwell's comments there give away a key component to the ghost story.
Rest assured that Murder on the House will keep you from resting until you finish this delightful paranormal mystery.
Juliet Blackwell's website is www.julietblackwell.net
Murder on the House by Juliet Blackwell. Obsidian. 2012. ISBN 9780451238849 (paperback), 311p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.