The first book covers all of three reading challenges. Firstly it's my book five for Carl's R.I.P. IX challenge. Then it's my book thirty three for Bev's 2014 Mount TBR challenge. And lastly, it's my book eleven for the My Kind of Mystery challenge which is being hosted by Riedel Fascination, which takes me beyond the number of books required for the category 'Secret Messages' (5 - 10) and into a new category, 'Unearthing Clues' (11 - 20).
Alison Kerby is now a single mother, recently divorced from her husband, with a nine year old daughter, Melissa. Unable to decide how to earn a living, she buys an historical house on the coast of New Jersey with the aim of opening a guest house for paying guests. Alison is skilled enough to do the much needed renovations herself but a bucket of compound falls and hits her on the head, after which things are never the same again. She discovers she can now see ghosts, but not just any ghosts, one is the previous owner of the house, Maxie, and the other is the private detective, Paul, whom Maxie engaged to protect her against death threats she was suddenly receiving. They tell Alison that they were murdered and want her to help find the culprit as they can't go beyond the boundaries of the property. Alison is far too busy to help and thus reluctant, but when she finds a death threat in her email inbox things naturally change. Alison is no private detective but she must find out what's going on and why ownership of this particular house seems to entail threats on the owner's life, before her and her daughter's lives come seriously under threat.
This was a nice little read for RIP IX. What I didn't realise before I started the book was that the author is a man. I found out halfway through and while it shouldn't have made a difference, in reality, it did. I realised that the snappy humour displayed - by way of Alison, the first person narrator - was of a more male orientated type. I'd realised something was slightly amiss and when I found out the author was male it all fell into place. Not that that was in any way problematic, just slightly odd. In fact, this book is a fun read. If you're looking for a serious, scary sort of ghost story then this is not it. This is, I suppose, a cozy mystery and therefore humour is to the fore with the ghosts able to speak and interact with 'some' humans but not all. The house here is a beautiful, historical building and I found all the renovation details quite interesting, though possibly just a trifle too detailed. Again, evidence of a male author... but that's just my opinion of course. All in all a good, fun read, the first in a series that I'm not sure if I'll continue with. We'll see.
Next, Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin. This is my book twenty for Bev's Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge and covers the category: An Academic Mystery.
Gervase Fen has been asked to present the prizes at Castrevenford school, a private school in Worcestershire. He arrives the night before and almost immediately becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. Two of the teachers at the school are found dead and a female pupil has gone missing after a failed assignation with a male pupil. The local police are out of their depth and ask Fen, with his experience of solving murders, to help. It seems all kinds of strange events are connected with the case, including some unusual behaviour on behalf of the dead teachers, a mysterious manuscript, student romance, and the death of an old woman in a nearby village. Fen has his work cut out to solve this one, not least because the life of a student hangs in the balance.
Another very enjoyable Gervase Fen mystery. Fen is such an interesting amateur detective. Every inch an academic and just a touch pompous, but he knows he is and thus tries not to take himself too seriously. Crispin's writing style is wonderfully humorous and droll and it's quite possible to laugh yourself through his books. There's another glorious chase scene later in the book which would do an Ealing comedy proud. Totally bonkers and thus delightful. I like books set in schools so this appealed to me on that extra level and I wish there were more academic mysteries around to be honest; I find them wierdly enjoyable. I think this is my fourth Fen mystery so far so it's nice that I still have five left to read. I hope they're all as good as the four I've read so far.