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VINE VOICEon April 14, 2004
This was a fabulous first mystery. I read it in one day! I can't wait for another in this series!
Penelope Thornton-McClure has returned to Quindicott, Rhode Island, to become co-owner of Buy the Book bookstore with her Aunt Sadie. Penelope brought her seven year old son Spencer with her. Penelope's husband Calvin recently killed himself.
To help increase business, Penelope sets up an author appearance by Timothy Brennan, renowned author of the Detective Jack Shield story. Unfortunately Timothy chokes during his talk and dies.
The next morning when Penelope wakes with a hangover, she figures his death will be the end of Buy the Book. Boy was she wrong.
Apparently they sold every copy of his new book and all of his previous books as well. The next day more copies arrive. She doesn't know how they will sell them until they open and are mobbed once again.
Then the State Police determine he was killed and arrest Brennan's daughter, Diedre. She and her husband Kenneth had arrived with Brennan and Shelby Cabot from the publisher's the night of Brennan's talk.
About 50 years ago P.I. Jack Shepard had been shot in a bookstore in this same location. Apparently Brennan's Jack Shield character was built off of Jack Shepard.
Penelope starts conversing with Jack Shepard in her head. Most of the time she is trying to stop hearing him, but he is very persistent.
I like the interaction of Penelope and Jack, even though he's a ghost. This is such a well-written cozy. She has created likeable characters, including a ghost, but it isn't scary in the least. Matter of fact, I found it funny!
The interaction between the other characters is well written as well. I also like the setting of a small Rhode Island town. The bookstore setting gives it charm.
She has a real winner! I highly recommend this! You won't want to put it down.
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on February 3, 2004
Mix in a young mystery store owner, the ghost of a private detective (circa the late 1940s and very Philip Marlowe-like), and the murder of a rather unlikable mystery novelist, and you'll get the wonderfully engaging and engrossing "The Ghost and Mrs. McClure," the first installment in the Haunted Bookshop mystery series.
Following the death of her husband, Penelope Thornton-McClure, decides to pack up her bags and son (Spenser) and move back home to Quindicott, Rhode Island. Using the insurance money from her husband's policy, Penelope buys half ownership of her aunt's bookstore, renames it (BUY THE BOOK) and starts remodeling the whole place. But Penelope ideas don't just end with the extensions, new furniture and lighting, she's also decided to start featuring authour events at the sore. And in a coup, has actually nabbed the famous mystery novelist, Timothy Brennan, to talk about and sign his latest book. What Penelope did not count on was that Brennan would turn out to be such a rotter or that he would keel over and die in the middle of his talk, right in front of his audience, or that the police would actually start eyeing her as a viable suspect when it turns out that Brennan's death was a suspicious one. Fortunately for Penelope she has her very own private investigator working on the case: the store's own resident ghost, private detective Jack Shepard. With Jack's help, things are bound to be cleared up soon -- that is once Penelope gets used to the notion that her store is being haunted by Jack, and that she's about the only person around who can hear him...
Even though this was a rather straight forward read, I practically stayed up till late in order to finish the book -- it was that enjoyable a read. Alice Kimberly does such a wonderful job of bringing Penelope and Jack to "life" and of developing their relationship, that the uncomplicated plot was NOT a detraction at all. If you're looking for a good mystery novel to unwind with that's just pure fun, you're bound to enjoy "The Ghost and Mrs. McClure." In fact I can hardly wait for the next Haunted Bookshop mystery installment.
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on September 27, 2004
i'm another fan of the film, 'the ghost and mrs. muir,' and thought it might be worthwhile to try this mystery. the last few cozies i've read have been very disappointing--ranging from badly written and embarrassingly plotted to just plain boring--so i didn't have high expectations for this one.

i was so glad to be wrong! this is a delightful read--the characters are well drawn, the english is not just grammatical (what a shock these days) but also well written and enjoyable, the plot is very good, with no more red herrings than absolutely necessary. the author manages the 40s slang pretty well. and while the heroine starts out as one of those unbelievably obnoxious doormats who seem to be so popular with cozy readers, she does develop some spine by the end of the book.

i'm looking forward to the next book with these characters, and i hope there are many more after that.
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VINE VOICEon January 24, 2005
After her husband kills himself, Penelope Thornton-McClure, moved to Rhode Island with her seven year old son, Spencer, and buys into her aunt's bookstore. She arranges an appearance in the store by Timothy Brennan, author of a series of books based on the real-life unsolved murder of private eye Jack Shepard in that very location. Brennan, who turns out to be a jerk, chokes and dies during his talk at the store. There are plenty of suspects, including Penelope herself, who handed Brennan the tainted water bottle that ended up killing him. Penelope plays detective to clear her name, with unexpected help from the ghost of Jack Shepard.

This was a fun book to read. Having a ghost as one of the detectives is a clever idea and works well. Author Alice Kimberly does a great job of switching from Penelope's viewpoint (first person) to Jack's (third person). Also done well is Jack's dialogue. Since he died 50 years ago, he still sounds like a hard boiled detective from the 1950's and he is amazed at the current technology, such as computers, that Penelope uses to help solve the murder.

Alice Kimberly knows and cares a lot about books and bookstores and it shows. The mystery itself was good, although I guessed a major plot twist fairly early. Still, this was an excellent first book in what promises to be an interesting series.
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on September 11, 2004
What a fun read! Widow Penelope McClure co-owns a bookshop in Rhode Island with her elderly Aunt. Over fifty years ago a hard-boiled detective, Jack Shepard was murdered in the bookshop and has been haunting the premises ever since. When Timothy Brennen, author of the Jack Shield mysteries based on our resident ghost, dies in the midst of his talk, Pen is one of the murder suspects.

Pen must cope with a ghost who speaks only to her, her husband's suicide, wealthy in-laws who want her seven-year-old son, and a business that is teetering on financial disaster. The plot is tight, supporting characters wacky, and the literary mentions make this a satfisfying read. If you are a fan of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, try this one. And in December the second in The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries will be published.
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on March 1, 2004
One of my favorite movies is the Ghost and Mrs. Muir, so needless to say the title - The Ghost and Mrs. McClure caught my attention. I read this in one day. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd like to see how the author handles future books with these characters. I was glad to see at the end of the book the notice that her next book in the series comes in December 2004. Something to definitely look forward to.
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VINE VOICEon July 25, 2004
I really enjoyed "The Ghost and Mrs. McClure" much more than I had imagined. While Alice Kimberly ingeniously has played on the premise of the original book, i.e. a ghost interacting with an attractive widow, she has written a great mystery in her own right. Moreover, she does not play on the original to the point of being overly cute.

I greatly anticipate that we will see Alice Kimberly continue to perfect her work. She has the start of a great series!
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on January 5, 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The main character, Penelope, is just the right combination of sweetness and spunk. Jack, is a great representation of your typical movie-style 1950s hard-nosed detective. Ms. Kimberly has enough imagination to make his dialogue amusingly typical without being too cliche. The other characters are well-written also, including Penelope's young son, who is cute without being cloying.

The plot was not overly convoluted, but still kept me guessing until the very end. I eagerly await the next installment!
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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2005
I really liked this book, not because it was the best mystery I have ever read, or it was the most exciting book in the world. I liked this book because it was just plain fun. It didn't require alot of thought, it is short and to the point. It is filled with humour, action, suspense and it does all this without vulgar language, guts all over the floor, and everyone sleeping with everyone else. This book could be read by young and old alike and everyone in between.

The plot is good, the idea is fresh and different from the usual mystery novel. The mental conversations between the main character and the ghost are great. I can't wait for the next installment of this series to see how the relationship between these two blossoms. Share this book with a friend or relative. The townsfolk remind me of a small mid-western town I grew up in where everyone knows everyone else's business and everyone has an opinion. This is a refreshing book, I hope you enjoy it.
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on May 1, 2005
My 70-year-old dad read and loved this book. He's not a typical cozy reader, but he really liked the hard-boiled ghost detective, Jack Shepard. He was my favorite character, too, and I'm half my father's age. I must admit, this is one of the most charming, humorous, and well-written cozies I've read in the last year. The basic premise matches a young Miss Marple-type widow and single mother with the ghost of a Chandler-type hard-boiled detective. It's a wonderful concept and excellently executed. Jack has running arguments with Penelope in her head--using hilarious hard-boiled slang--and he and Penelope strike up a strange but warm relationship as they investigate the murder that takes place in the bookstore that Jack haunts and Pen manages (with her elderly Aunt Sadie). The cast of quirky townie characters are very funny and endearing, and pretty plausible types if you've ever lived in a small town. Amazon shows a sequel is in the works (The Ghost and the Dead Deb, Sept. 2005), which looks to be the second in this Haunted Bookshop series. This is the first. The allusion of the title pun--to the famous "Ghost and Mrs. Muir"--is clearly intentional on the part of the author as you can see from the opening epigram. There are a lot of fun literate references to hard-boiled pulp novels throughout the book as well. Absolutely fabluous. Loved it!
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