"Ghost in Trouble" by Carolyn Hart
William Morrow, 276 pp., $19.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James
Bailey Ruth Raeburn just can't leave Adelaide, Oklahoma, behind, no matter how enticing Heaven may be.
Heaven can wait when the mortal storm gathers back in her hometown, and she's summoned by the Department of Good Intentions to protect the endangered and to bring the wicked to justice.
In this third volume of one of three ongoing mystery series by Oklahoma City author Carolyn Hart, the chipper redhead who's looking a divine twenty-seven once more (when she and her husband perished in a boating accident, they were both "up in fifty") is assigned by the Department to put aside hard feelings for a former nemesis who's in peril at an oil baron's estate.
Widow Kay Clark had reignited an old flame with Jack Hume, an adventuresome gent who left the family business following the tragic deaths of his first wife and their daughter.
However, Jack's in for it himself, and Kay is plumbing the depths of the skullduggery at the family manse, The Castle, which appears as over-occupied as Southfork or Falcon Crest.
They include Jack's matriarchal, never-wed older sister, his sister-in-law (who has ensconced a psychic and her husband in The Castle, the better to contact Jack's deceased brother, James), Jack's young nephew Jimmy, and the housekeeper and her young daughter, who reside in a cottage on the property.
Naturally, there's a thing between the two youngsters, although the young lady is not giving Audrey Hepburn's Sabrina a run for her money anytime soon. Maybe Julia Ormond's Sabrina-- better Julia was gowned by Hubert de Givenchy, under the guise of Edith Head.
Speaking of couture, Bailey Ruth likes to change her ensembles at least ten times a day, when she's not relishing a burger and apple pie a la everything at Lulu's, Adelaide's beanery of note.
Back to the cast (of suspects in Jack's demise, and Kay's intended demise): let's not forget the neighbors next-door to The Castle, who are hiding a big secret rather poorly, and an art dealer who is as "in" with Jack's sister as the psychic is with his sister-in-law.
The charm of this series lies in its lightheartedness, in Bailey Ruth's joy in sleuthing, in her apparating and disapparating, in her instantaneous portation from scene to scene.
She's not supposed to be mixing it up with the mortals, although she seems to delight in bending the Department's rules, much to the chagrin of her Boss Upstairs, Wiggins.
Of Hart's three mystery series, this one lends itself most felicitously to film/television. Put some of Lucy's henna on Carrie Underwood, and send her to Adelaide.
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