Monday, January 19, 2015

Ghost in the Guacamole by Sue Ann Jaffarian

"Sex, money, and power, the three reasons people kill and this has them all." And, some people think cozy mysteries with ghosts are just fluff. Sue Ann Jaffarian's ghost, Granny Apples, does provide the comic relief in Ghost in the Guacamole. But, there's nothing fluffy and cozy about a family feud between sisters.

When medium Emma Whitecastle is invited to lunch at Restaurante Roble on Olvera Street in L.A., she didn't realize her host owned and managed the restaurant. Rikki Ricardo wanted Emma to try to contact her late father, Felix, for his advice. Rikki, her sister, Lucy, and their mother, were the sole stockholders of the company that included the restaurant and a large Mexican food company. Rikki, passionate about the family business, wanted to keep it. Lucy was determined to sell, while their mother waffled. But, Rikki would let the business go over her dead body. To Emma's surprise, Felix warned her to sell, saying it might be over her dead body if she didn't.

Jaffarian's mystery has its light moments. As I said, Granny Apples, the ghost of Emma's great-great-great-grandmother, supplies those, as she spies on people, uses language she picked up from television, and encounters an unusual medium who can see and hear her. But, Emma takes her work seriously, which is why she worries about Rikki, and worries even more when her parents are at a crime scene. It's obvious to everyone that Emma needs to investigate.  Emma doesn't see herself as an investigator, but her father says, "What you do is investigative work. You investigate facts for your show and on the side you investigate the history and often murders of ghosts."

Paranormal mysteries add elements not available to other investigators; the ghost. And, the ghosts have different qualities and talents, depending on the author. But, most of them, like Granny Apples, are nosy and curious, perfect sidekicks. Sue Ann Jaffarian's Ghost in the Guacamole successfully mixes a serious murder investigation with the enthusiasm and humor only a ghost can add to a mystery. Granny Apples and Emma Whitecastle, with a little help from their friends, make a successful team.

Sue Ann Jaffarian's website is

Ghost in the Guacamole by Sue Ann Jaffarian. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425262498 (paperback), 294p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

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