I heard Tonya Kappes at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest last week, and her humor caught my attention. I bought the first in her Ghostly Southern mystery series, A Ghostly Undertaking, and I already have the second one, A Ghostly Grave. I have no regrets that I bought that first book. It was just as warm, funny, and charming as I expected it to be.
Emma Lee Raines and her sister, Charlotte Rae, share Director duties at the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky. But, it was Emma Lee who was hit on the head by a Santa Claus that fell off the roof of the local deli, causing her to see ghosts. She's told she's suffering from "funeral trauma", but that's not why she sees the ghost of her granny's arch-nemesis, Ruthie Sue Payne. Ruthie Sue claims she was pushed down the stairs at the inn she co-owned with Emma Lee's granny. And, since Sheriff Jack Henry Ross seems suspicious of Granny, Emma Lee's determined to find out if there really was a killer. And, maybe then, Ruthie Sue will disappear and leave her alone.
A Ghostly Undertaking has every element you could hope for in a "Ghostly Southern" mystery series. There are eccentric characters, including some of the women in Emma Lee's own family. She refers to her granny, Zula, and her sister, Charlotte Rae, as women who possess "Southern charm with a venomous tongue". Emma Lee herself seems strange to some of the townspeople who see her talking to Ruthie Sue, while they never see Ruthie Sue. But, she cleans up just fine for a "date" with Jack Henry, a date that ends up a little differently than Emma Lee would have hoped. Even at twenty-seven, Emma Lee doesn't see herself as attractive, but thinks of herself as she was in school, that "scary funeral girl".
A Ghostly Undertaking is a fun, charming mystery involving family, small town secrets, and a little romance. And, of course, there's this undertaker who can see ghosts.
Tonya Kappes' website is www.tonyakappes.com
A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes. Witness. 2015. ISBN 9780062374646 (paperback), 296p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought the copy of A Ghostly Undertaking.