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Saturday, 5 March 2016

‘Ghost in the Wind’ by E.J. Copperman

Published by Berkley Prime Crime,
1 December 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-425-26927-5 (PB)

Alison Kerby returns in the 7th and newest in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series by E.J. Copperman.  Alison Kerby, a single mother in her late thirties, runs a guesthouse in her childhood hometown of Harbor Haven, on the Jersey Shore [which she describes as ‘a charming but somewhat rickety Victorian’ into which she has sunk ‘every last dime I had’], inhabited by her and her precocious eleven-year-old daughter, Melissa, as well as Maxie Malone, Alison’s resident Internet expert, who had died at 28, and Paul Harrison, an English/Canadian professor turned detective, both of whom have lived there since before their deaths, and her deceased father.

(At Paul’s urging, Alison is now a licensed private investigator.)  It would seem that Alison, her daughter and her mother are the only ones who can see the ghosts.  She now acknowledges the ghostly residents, and advertises the inn as a Haunted Guesthouse, specializing in Senior Plus Tours which include twice-daily ‘spook shows.’

Alison is taken aback, to understate the case, when she is asked by a new ghost in the house, a man/musician who has been her idol for decades, and who I suspect may be the fictional reincarnation of one of the Beatles, who I also suspect has held that position in the author’s life (he is here called Vance McTiernan, ‘lead singer and songwriter of the Jingles,’) who tasks Alison with finding out who murdered his daughter, who died a few months before from an allergic reaction to food she had ingested.  Although there was a suspicion that it was suicide, he is convinced she was murdered.

Alison and her ghostly cohorts take up the investigation, made more difficult since many if not most of the people who might have killed the girl were presently dead.

There is a second ‘job’ that Alison works on when she has a spare minute, and that is discovering the whereabouts of a ‘short blond guy named Lester from Topeka, Kansas,’ at the behest of a rather strange woman pulling a wagon who turns up from time to time.

The writing is terrific, just what one needs in these days of fictional and real-life horrors, and I read the book over a span of a couple of days, all of it with at least a smile on my face or laughing out loud.  The book is well-plotted and the characters, alive or otherwise, thoroughly engaging (even the ones who try Alison’s, and perhaps the reader’s, patience).

As I’ve said before, my preference in mystery genres generally does not include either “cozies” or books dealing in the supernatural (not that there’s anything wrong with those, and many of my best friends love them, I hasten to add).  But this author’s writing overcomes any such reluctance on my part - - his books are always thoroughly delightful, and highly recommended, and this one is no exception.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit
Jeff Cohen (E J Cooperman) is the nom de plume for Jeffrey Cohen, writer of intentionally funny murder mysteries in the Double Feature and Aaron Tucker series. As E.J. Copperman he writes the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, and now collaborates with himself on the Samuel Hoenig Asperger’s Mystery series. He’s been writing for a (nominal) living since graduating from Rutgers College during the Paleozoic Era, and has had articles published in The New York Times When the idea for one of his countless unproduced screenplays wouldn’t cooperate and become a script, Jeff wrote it as a novel called For Whom the Minivan Rolls, and the book was published by Bancroft Press in 2002. It was followed in the Aaron Tucker series by A Farewell to Legs and As Dog Is My Witness. Aaron returned in a 2011 short story, The Gun Also Rises, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. The story won the Barry Award (at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame!) for best short story of 2012.
The Double Feature Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime began with Some Like It Hot-Buttered, which introduced Elliot Freed and his all-comedy movie theater, Comedy Tonight. It was followed by It Happened One Knife and A Night at the Operation.
Under the name E.J. Copperman, Jeff writes the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, which began with Night of the Living Deed and continues with An Uninvited Ghost, Old Haunts, and Chance of a Ghost. The series will continue in December with Inspector Specter.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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