Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Ghost of Granny Apples #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, fun story
Cons: Weak climax and occasional bits of writing
The Bottom Line:
Mixed with a fun mystery
Read with piece of pie

Ghostly Fun Debut

The mystery genre seems to go through phases.  One gaining in popularity right now is the supernatural subgenre.  Many new series seem to come out every year containing vampires and witches and psychics.  Generally, I avoid them and stick to the books set in the real world.  But when an author I already liked offered a free copy of the first in her new series for free to participants in a 5K, I jumped at the chance.  That's how I came to read Ghost a la Mode.  And I'm glad I did.

Emma Whitecastle is attempting to get on with her life after a divorce.  She joins her friend at a seance one night only to be followed home by a ghost.  It's through this strange event that Emma learns she is a clairvoyant.  And the ghost is her great-great-great grandmother.

Ish Reynolds, affectionately known as Granny Apples because of her pies, was accused of murder and lynched back in the late 1800's.  But she was innocent and has been waiting for someone to prove it.  At first reluctantly, Emma heads down to Julian, California, to do some poking around.  What she finds makes her think that Granny was telling the truth.  But can Emma prove it after all these years?

I went into this book with an open mind, looking to be entertained.  And I was.  In fact, I had a hard time putting the book down when I wasn't able to read it.

What really drew me into this story were the characters.  They truly seem real.  And, yes, this includes the ghosts.  While I sometimes cringed at Emma talking to them when others were present, I could sympathize.  A couple of times I forgot that Granny wasn't there with the rest of them.  Emma herself is fascinating as she goes from skeptic to full believer.  It might be a tad fast for a real person, but I bought it in the context of the book.

The plot made a few detours I wasn't expecting and took a little bit of time to truly get going.  But even then, the story was always moving forward.  Those extra scenes helped develop the characters.  And they were interesting.  The climax was weaker than I would have liked, but it was a minor point.

One aspect I certainly enjoyed was the historical aspect.  Naturally, most of the story revolves around modern characters and stuff happening in Julian today.  But there is still plenty of time spent talking about the past.  As a history buff, this little glimpse into the past added to the fun.

For the most part, the writing was good.  I always felt like I was right there with Emma.  Unfortunately, the author occasionally switches the view point character in the middle of a scene, usually to tell us something about Emma.  Since this is one of my biggest pet peeves, it really irritated me.

Flaws aside, I enjoyed my time with Emma, Granny, and their friends, living and dead.  Ghost a la Mode looks to be the start of another great series from Sue Ann Jaffarian.

Looking for the next book?  Here are the rest of the Ghost of Granny Apples Mysteries in order.

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