Monday, October 8, 2018

The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure didn't believe in ghosts, until she was haunted by the hard-boiled spirit of 1940s private investigator Jack Shepard. Now Jack is back on the job, and Pen is eternally grateful...

After an elegant new customer has a breakdown in her shop, Penelope suspects there is something bogus behind the biggest bestseller of the year. This popular potboiler is so hot that folks in her tiny Rhode Island town are dying to read it--literally. First one customer turns up dead, followed by another mysterious fatality connected to the book, which Pen discovers is more than just fiction. Now, with the help of her gumshoe ghost, Pen must solve the real-life cold case behind the bogus bestseller before the killer closes the book on her.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  How could I pass up that title?  And a haunted bookshop?  

My Impression:
  While I have read several other books by Cleo Coyle I have never read any of the haunted bookshop series (which I believe were published under the Alice Kimberly name) until now.  I watched the movie version of The Maltese Falcon not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was excited to see that Jack Shepard was the same breed of hard boiled wise cracking PI as Sam Spade.

This was fun!  I loved the bookstore setting and I loved the juxtaposition between the cynical Jack Shepard and the more optimistic Pen Thornton - McClure.  While the victim appears on page 1 it does take awhile for the mystery to really get going.  It wasn't slow but there is a decent amount of setup.  I enjoyed this as it gave me a chance to get to know Pen and understand her and Jack's dynamic.  I really didn't have a clue how it was all going to unravel until the end and it was such a fun ride getting there.  There is a bit of a dual timeline with some page time spent working on Jack's case that takes place in 1946 which I enjoyed though it did take me a few pages to adjust to since I'm new to the series.   

While I love the character of Jack I didn't love how often he interfered with Pen's ability to have conversations with the people around her.  She's frequently accused of zoning out or not paying attention and I didn't love that.  I had no problem starting at book 6 though it did make me want to go back to the beginning to see how Pen and Jack met!  This was a fun cozy with a unique spin that has me wanting to read the rest of the series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I've really enjoyed her coffee shop series and I'm looking forward to reading the first 5 books.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you like cozy mysteries and are looking for something just a bit different than you need to try this series!

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *


  1. I always love it when a novel is set in a bookstore, and this looks like it would work so well as a hallmark movie. Hope you've having fun, and those pictures of your trip are pretty amazing! Hugs...RO

  2. I don't usually grab a cozy but I agree, how could you pass up a book about a bookshop?! Glad you enjoyed it. Also, I am loving your photos of the trip to Disney!

  3. I know - the title immediately grabbed me when I came onto your post. Sounds fun.

  4. I was so excited when I saw that there would be another book in this series. I read the first ones long ago when they were first published. Not sure I picked up all 5 of the previous, but did read at least 3. Now I want to go back and begin again. Saw an interview with Cleo Coyle/Alice Alphonsi and she said there would be another after this - yay! I love Pen and Jack.