I first picked up book four, Deader Homes and Gardens, and loved the mixture of cozy mystery meets paranormal meets Southern small town romance. It was a good balance of light and fun with moderately dark and spooky. I fell in love with Verity Long and her ghostly partner Frankie right away.
Naturally, I was enthusiastic about racing back to get the series from the beginning. And there it was when I went to Amazon… the embarrassing notation that I already owned book one. This happens more than I’d like to admit as I side-eye the monster TBR pile. However, having enjoyed my first encounter with an audio edition, I took advantage of adding the audio version for an extra dollar and off I went. I binged the earlier books in the series including the novellas to get caught up. They were all as fabulous as my first encounters.
Southern Spirits, Book One (and currently free in ebook, I believe) Introduced Verity Long, Southern gal and town pariah living on a prayer and hoping for a miracle to save her family home. Her miracle comes in the form of an irascible ghost of a gangster when she accidentally ties him to her and her home. Frankie and Verity are stuck together and end up working a job for her ex-fiancé’s brother. Ellis Wydell is not only Beau’s skeptical brother, but also the police officer who finds Verity in the wrong spot under suspicious circumstances more than once. Lucky for Verity, Ellis is nothing like the rest of his family and especially different from his brother when he chooses to believe her about ghosts and partners her in solving the crime.
Next, a tweeny novella, A Ghostly Gift has Verity and Frankie working a job for a second hand shop with a ghost problem.
In Skeleton in the Closet, the town’s big Civil War reenactment exposes a founding family’s secrets and a person willing to murder to protect it. Verity and Frankie are on the job discovering that angry ghosts and a determined murderer might be too much for them to tangle with.
A Ghostly Gift was a sweet tweeny holiday novella telling how Verity and Frankie reunite a lonesome ghost with his family at Christmas.
Haunted Heist has Verity tangled up with Frankie’s old gang and a dangerous murder where the motive and method are obscure and a dead gangster is the chief suspect.
And finally, Deader Homes and Gardens takes Verity and Frankie into a spooky haunted house where a family curse can only be lifted when long-dead family secrets are revealed.
I love how the series introduces a new ghostly mystery with each book, but also forwards several plot threads including Verity and Frankie’s efforts to free his ties to her, Verity and Ellis’ complicated romance, and Verity’s interactions in her small town. Verity’s sister Melanie, her best friend, and her pet skunk as well as occasional run-ins with Ellis’ mother keep things more than entertaining.
But the real fun for me is Verity and Frankie’s tug o’ war style partnership and acrimonious banter as they go about fixing things in the ghost world and among the living. Soft hearted helper-type Verity and a ‘what’s in it for me’ gangster Frankie make an interesting team to say the least.
And I will forever have Tavia Gilbert’s talented voice and storytelling in my head when I think of all these characters and their adventures. She nails Verity’s warm-hearted nice girl persona, but also Frankie’s gangsta shtick without overdoing it. Her male and female voices are well done and her grasp of the style and emotion of the series is right on.
So, all in all, this was a binge worth doing and I can’t wait for future releases. I think even those who aren’t cozy mystery fans will get a kick out of these with all the other elements involved.
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