the ghost and the femme fatale by alice kimberly

Posted on April 12, 2009


It’s more difficult for me to write about a book I really liked. Sometimes, there is just no isolating the ingredients that made the read exceptional.

With The Ghost and the Femme Fatale, fourth in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series, I am at a loss as to what stands out.

ghost-and-the-femme-fatale1Is it the chemistry between hard-boiled PI Jack Sheppard and gentle bookstore owner Penelope McClure? Is it the small-town whodunit elements, the cozy mystery, the race for the answers before more people are murdered? Or is it the fact that Jack is a ghost, dead since 1949, and that he is haunting Penelope’s shop as well as dreams?

In this installment, the Movie Town Theater is holding its first ever Film Noir, with special guest ‘50s femme fatale Hedda Geist. She has a dark past, which seems to have caught up with her—because the moment she steps onto the stage, she is almost killed by a massive speaker that fell off the roof.

Then other guests start to die. Penelope, who handles the book sales of these guests, wants to know why, and enlists Jack’s help, especially when she realizes the police are again on the wrong track.

Jack has a bad feeling about this. He was alive at the height of Hedda’s career and infamy. He suspects that the femme fatale may have had something to do with one of his unsolved cases. Combining real time investigation and dream travel, courtesy of Jack’s ghostly powers, they crack the case though.

Despite the murders and the killer’s murderous desire for revenge, I felt good reading this book. It may not be as edgy as other paranormal mysteries nor as riveting as the thrillers I’ve read but it is lighter, and fun.

I like the camaraderie between many of the townsfolk: they’re not all out to get each other, instead they band together to support Penelope and oust the killer in their midst. The activity room beside the bookstore serves as their unofficial club room.

Maybe, there is no one single ingredient that makes this series so likeable. It has a special appeal, you know… Ok, fine, I love> this series because Jack and Penelope having a crush on one another is just so darned cute I want to squeeze them!

The Haunted Bookshop series is very hard to find. Our big bookstores don’t carry the titles; I chanced upon the second book in one Booksale branch while a friend this title in another. One major reason I am giving in to the lure of credit cards is so that I can order the rest of the titles from Amazon.