Book Review: A Ghostly Undertaking

A Ghostly Underaking (Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1)
Published By: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Adult - Paranormal Mystery

Things in the town of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky have always been pretty slow. The small town has seen its share of gossip, but nothing more serious has happened in the collective memory of the townsfolk, but all that changes when Ruthie Sue Payne is found at the bottom of her stairs. Everyone thinks she fell, but Emma Lee Raines knows something is amiss. 

Emma Lee has been cursed with the ability to see the dearly departed after an unfortunate run in with a large plastic Santa. It's not the sort of thing you want to happen when you run a funeral home. Emma Lee can't escape the agitated spirit of Ruthie Sue. Ruthie Sue wants Emma Lee to find out who killed her so that she can cross over to the great beyond.

I enjoyed the premise behind this one. Ghosts and a small, quirky southern town make for an intriguing mix. The characters that populate Sleepy Hollow kept me laughing and shaking my head. Kappes has nailed the small town mentality. I loved the interactions between the southern ladies.

Emma Lee is endearing and I liked her from the start. She is a bit unsure of her self and her recent head injury has only made her more self conscious. Everyone in town thinks that she is losing her mind, but she can't explain that she's talking to ghosts. That would only make things worse. Emma Lee starts to feel like things might be improving when the handsome sheriff learns of her gift and agrees to let her help with the investigation. 

Emma Lee reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse in some moments with her odd gift that garners her odd looks from the other inhabitants in her small, southern town. This is where the similarities between the two ended. Emma Lee is much more sweet tea and innocence than Sookie. 

My biggest complaint with this one was the plot. I easily sank into this world, but there were some major plot holes and the ending felt unorganized. It didn't flow well and everything seemed to be resolved a little too easily. I wanted to see the end be as fully developed as the beginning. I hope that in the next installment the writing is tighter. A Ghostly Undertaking scratches the surface of potential, but I feel like the author could go much deeper with her characters and plot. It just felt like something was missing.

In spite of my lackluster response to the ending, I did enjoy this one. I think it has a lot of potential and I could easily see myself spending more time in Sleepy Hollow with Emma Lee. This was a short, fun read that I would recommend to fans of mysteries with a paranormal spin. 

One Last Gripe: I was annoyed that almost every character went by their first and middle names. I know that happens in the South a lot, but not to this extent. It also made it harder for me to remember who some of the minor characters were because I couldn't keep all the names straight.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The humor

First Sentence: Another day.

Favorite Character: Ruthie Sue

Least Favorite Character: The Killer

A funeral, a ghost, a murder…it’s all in a day’s work for Emma Lee Raines…

Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she’s suffering from “funeral trauma.” It’s trauma all right, because the not so dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne--innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee’s granny—she’s adamant that she didn’t just fall down those stairs. She was pushed.

Ruthie has no idea who wanted her pushing up daisies. All she knows is that she can’t cross over until the matter is laid to eternal rest. In the land of the living, Emma Lee’s high-school crush, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, isn’t ready to rule out foul play. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie’s ex-husband and co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective or risk being haunted forever.


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