After the death of her husband, Penelope Thornton-McClure moved with her son Spencer to the quaint community of Quindicott, Rhode Island. As a co-owner of the family owned Buy the Book mystery bookstore run by her Aunt Sadie, she was well aware of the challenges ahead.
Soon after her arrival, in her quest to drive more traffic to their ailing bookstore, Penelope invited the best-selling author, Timothy Brennan to speak about his latest release. The night did not start out well when the chairs in the banquet room she had so carefully arranged for the prestigious occasion tipped over at the hand of an unknown person. After Penelope quickly set everything back in place, the chairs were soon dramatically rearranged by his entourage according to his harsh and abrasive demands.
Penelope endured numerous complaints and insults by his publisherís representative, questioning whether she could ever endure another such evening. Maybe inviting authors to their small town was just not worth the headache.
She soon found her earlier struggles were the least of her problems. Unfortunately, during Brennan's speech he keeled over dead after drinking bottled water handed to him by Penelope.
Thinking this tragedy was the end of the bookstore, Penelope and Sadie were shocked when business started booming the next day. First, a large shipment of Brennanís new book unexpectedly showed up early in the morning. Then the crowd, pushing and shoving to get through the front door, proved barely manageable as the books flew off the shelf. Over the next couple of days they had phenominal sales soon selling all available books.
Because Penelope was the person who handed Brennan the water and her store profited by his death, she rose to the top of the suspicious persons list as local detectives sought the killer.
Adding to the confusion was the ghost of PI Jack Shepard, killed in the bookstore 50 years before and the model for Brennan's detective stories. Penelope soon realized she could communicate with Jack in her mind, and that she was the only one aware of his presence. When Jack encouraged Penelope to solve the case, she began to wonder if she was losing her mind.
The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly, was written by the same husband-wife team who wrote the coffeehouse mysteries using the name Cleo Coyle.
This cozy bookstore mystery is a welcome beginning to a new series. The main characters are engaging, the pacing flows well, and spending time at the bookstore quickly feels like one is hanging out with old friends. There is warmth to the small town and its people that the obnoxious and disruptive visitors cannot quell.
It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Penelope and Jack develops as the series continues.