Penelope Thornton McClure and her Aunt Sadie, who run the Buy the Book bookstore in Quindicott, Rhode Island, are hopeful that a signing by author Timothy Brennan will increase their sagging profits. But when Brennan collapses and dies, Pen seeks the help of Jack Shepherd, a ghost only she can hear, to solve the crime. Ironically, Brennan's last novel was based on Jack's life; he disappeared at Pen's store in 1949.

When Brennan's daughter Deirdre is arrested, Pen acts quickly to find the true culprit. With Deirdre's husband, Ken, a possible suspect, Pen wonders if he's having an affair with another suspect, Shelby, a publicity manager. Further complicating things, the discovery of tainted water bottles seems to implicate Pen in the murder. The only good news? The publicity has generated great sales.

Commingled with Pen's sleuthing are conversations between her and Jack, who speaks in colorful private-dick language. Quindicott's enigmatic townspeople come alive in this quirky mystery, and readers will eagerly anticipate future installments —and the continuing easy banter and romantic tension between Jack and Penelope. (Feb., 272 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick