Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Ghost Shadow" by Heather Graham

Katie O'Hara runs her own karaoke business in Key West, Florida. She's ready to buy the old town museum, which is the site of Key West's own murder mystery, in which the dead body of Tanya Barnard was discovered. This was ten years ago and nobody was ever arrested for the crime.

Suspicion did fall upon her fiance David Beckett, but he had a solid alibi. Nevertheless, such accusations can never be truly shaken off, and he took off to do what all alpha males in the romantic suspense genre do - join the military and become a wildlife photographer. But he's back now and stopping the sale of the museum, as he believes no good could come of it. He also believes that Tanya's killer is still out there, ready to strike again, and convinces his police detective brother Liam to re-open the cold case.

As for Katie, she has the special ability to see ghosts, and as the body count slowly begins to rise, the ghosts seem to be trying to communicate to her the identify of the murderer. Could it be David, the man she is rapidly falling for?

Of course not! This is romantic suspense genre, remember. The alpha male love interest is the one character you can 100% guarantee will not be guilty. However, as hokey as my plot description makes this book out to be, I actually enjoyed it. God help me, I'm considering getting the other two books in the trilogy. While abundant cliches are present, Graham conjures up a rather appealing atmosphere and back-story for Key West. The mystery is unfolding just as Key West gears up for its annual Fantasy Fest. The town really does come alive, which adds to the story. Graham even has a good handle on the supernatural element. There's no question that ghosts exist or that Katie can see them. Her encounters with various ghosts are even mildly spooky. The murder mystery is fairly feeble - by the very nature of the genre I was able to spot which characters would be getting their own story in the next two books - so that narrowed down the suspect pool quite dramatically. The romance side of things was surprisingly well-handled. The relationship between Katie and David developed believably and both came across as fairly level-headed. I also quite enjoyed the character of Bartholomew, the ghost who watches over Katie. He stole several scenes.

No, it's not a genre-defining piece of work. But it was much better than I expected it to be. I liked the characters, and this is one of the few books I've read in which the locale has just as much personality and presence as the characters. Who would have thought?

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