Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Amazing story and plot that pull you in
Cons: Not a ghost of a con
The Bottom Line:
With family legacy stakes
Page turning novel
Will the Family Legacy Become a Ghost?
It’s no secret that Sue Ann Jaffarian has become one of my favorite authors over the last few years. Her characters are fun and her stories are page turners. I’ve even made an exception to my no paranormal rule for her Ghost of Granny Apples series. I’m glad I did because in Ghost in the Guacamole, she has topped herself.
If you are new to the series, it revolves around Emma Whitecastle, a middle aged divorcee who discovers she has the gift of communicating with ghosts when she meets Granny, her great-great-great grandmother. That leads her to a series of mysterious and dangerous cases where secrets and ghosts from the past effect the present. While some character development will be spoiled, you can still pick up this book and enjoy without needing to know more background than this.
Emma doesn’t quite know what to expect when she shows up at Restaurante Roble on Olvera Street in Los Angeles. An acquaintance from her yoga class has asked her to meet there, and Emma assumes it is about ghosts since that’s what Emma is known for. So she and Granny go to find out how they can help.
When Emma meets with Rikki Ricardo, she learns the young woman is trying to hang on to the family’s restaurant and Mexican food business. Her older sister Lucy is determined to sell, and Rikki wants help contacting the ghost of her father, Felix, to get advice on how to convince Lucy to change her mind. Only when Felix’s ghost makes an appearance, he insists that Rikki needs to consent to the sale or wind up like him. Is Rikki’s life in danger? Was Felix murdered? With many of the employees acting strangely, who can be trusted?
The plot of this book is strong. You can feel the tension between the two sisters as if you were in the room with them. There are so many strange things happening that it’s impossible to guess where things are going before Emma figures them out, yet the outcome is completely logical. Along the way, there are enough twists to keep you turning pages as quickly as possible.
A plot this strong requires great characters, and the book doesn’t disappoint here, either. There are really only five returning characters in this book, but they all show some growth. I especially enjoyed getting to know Emma’s parents a bit more. The rest of the cast is made up of characters related to this case, but they are fully formed, completely believable, and complex enough to make us care about the outcome of the story.
In addition to being a great investigative aid, Granny also provides wonderful comic relief. She’s a hundred year old ghost with an interest in current TV shows and movies, especially detective shows. This provides many chuckles and laughs along the way.
All this added up to a book I could not put down, almost literally. I read the second half in a day. While I was good putting it down at the end of my lunch hour, I gave up on self-control and finished it instead of getting to an ultimate Frisbee game on time. (And I love ultimate Frisbee, so that’s saying something.) The humor and more serious scenes meshed well to give us a complex book with more meat to it than some of the books I read, and I loved it as a result.
As a huge I Love Lucy fan, I did get a kick out of the sister’s names. I also enjoyed a brief cameo by Ellie Rush, the main character in Naomi Hirahara’s wonderful Murder on Bamboo Lane.
It’s consistently great storytelling that has hooked me on Sue Ann Jaffarian, and her talents are on full display here. If you want to be pulled into a wonderful book, pick up Ghost in the Guacamole.
NOTE: I was given a copy of this book. My opinion is still my own.
Once you get hooked with this book, you'll want to go back and enjoy the earlier adventures of the Ghost of Granny Apples in order.