Welcome to the first Haunted Guest House mystery - the getaway every reader can afford.
Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.
Series: Haunted Guest House #1 | Publisher: Berkley | Audiobook Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Amanda Ronconi| Length: 10 Hours 3 Minutes | Genre: Cozy Mystery| Source: Purchased| Ratings: Performance: 4 Cups Story: 4. 5 Cups
A friend of mine, who knows I adore cozy mysteries, gifted me with this audiobook and I was over the moon. Not only is it a cozy mystery, Amanda Ronconi—one of my favorite narrators—narrates it.
So, here’s what’s going on. After her divorce, Alison Kerby—with her nine-year-old in tow, moves back to her hometown to open a guesthouse on the Jersey Shore. Sure, the Victorian is in need of repairs, but Alison has it handled. What she doesn’t have handled is the fact her house is haunted by two ghosts who needs Alison’s help solving the mystery of who murdered them.
All Alison wants to do is get her guesthouse up and running, but when threats are launched at her and her daughter over the possibility a historical deed is hidden somewhere on her property , to save herself and her daughter, Alison must figure out who murdered her resident ghosts.
I simply loved this book. Normally I find the first book in a cozy mystery series a bit slow and boring, sometimes dragging, as the author introduces the characters and the setting. However, Night of the Living Deed (love the name, by the way), is so engaging and fluid it was hard to believe this was the start of a cozy mystery series.
The characters are delightful. Alison is single mom starting over after a divorce. She’s determined to get her guesthouse up and running but she’s also determined to do all the repairs herself. Living in a Victorian where everything seems to need to be repaired and no repair goes right, I have to admire the fact she has the ability and wants to do the repairs on her own.
Melissa, or Liss as she’s often called, is a very well-rounded nine-year-old. I would almost say she’s too smart and adept to be like life yet I know an eight-year-old that could be her twin. Loretta, Alison’s mother, was enjoyable and slightly over the top but that just added to her charm. There’s also Jeannie, Alison’s best friend who seems to be living in denial about the ghosts and Jeannie’s husband Tony.
The resident ghosts are brilliant. Maxie Malone, the former owner of the, is slightly annoying but I ended up liking her. I’m kind of wondering if it was the way the narrator portrayed her, slightly whiney almost teenagerish, that made her a bit harder to handle. She’s been through a lot. She bought her first house, had someone threaten her, and ended up dying because of it. I could understand why she was a bit standoffish, but some of it was over the top. The other ghost is Paul Harrison, the private detective that Alison hired to get to the bottom of who was threatening her. I really liked Paul, even in death he’s still eager to be a detective so it was interesting to see how he persuaded Alison to look into their deaths.
The mystery aspect as well as the actual detective work was engaging and it kept me guessing until the very end. It starts with Alison discovering the ghost and them asking for help with their murder to Alison becoming a target herself. Alison really gets hands on and I like when the main character of a cozy actually investigates. And, for once, the detective on the case, Detective Macaloney, is actually receptive of Alison’s help. Macaloney might not like it at times, but she agrees that Alison’s normally right.
Thrown into the mix is a love interest for Alison in the form of Ned Barnes, Melissa’s history teacher. I was never really sure if Ned was truly interested in Alison or if he was interesting in her house and the historical deed that was possibly hidden there. It was interesting to watch unfold but it never developed into anything, which was a shame because I would have liked to have seen this aspect have a bit more closure.
Amanda Ronconi truly brings the characters to life. I’ve always enjoyed her style of narration and the same is true with this book. I would have liked to have seen Maxie less annoying, but other than that, she did an amazing job brining the characters to life and showing off their unique personalities.
Overall, this was a brilliant start to the series. It kept me engaged and on my toes. It was very fluid and I enjoyed watching Alison and her friends and family deal with the fact that ghosts are indeed real. I would have liked to have seen the love interest aspect developed a bit more, but this was still an enjoyable read.
Haunted Guesthouse Series
The Thrill of the Haunt
Ghost in the Wind