This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Moose Island Books
Released on January 16, 2020
I’m a huge fan of the series and I leaped at the chance to get the anniversary special edition when I saw the special features added to the first three stories- two novels and a between novella. I’ve never felt this engaged with a cozy mystery series before, but it’s the combo of sassy fun characters, small town, clever mysteries on both the ghostly and human plane bringing a strong dose of history and romance with all the rest.
Southern Spirits is book one and introduces the Southern Ghost Hunter World.
Verity Long is the town pariah after dumping the scion of the wealthiest family at the altar. Only Verity knows that Beau Wydell is not as golden as everyone thinks and his mother won a lawsuit over the expense of the wedding reception that cleaned Verity out and has her on the brink of losing her old family home to pay the debt.
While despondently cleaning out the house she inherited from her grandmother and wondering if she’ll be homeless soon, Verity mistakes a funeral urn and ashes for a ‘dirty’ vase so she dumps the contents out over her rose bushes. This lands her with a gangster’s ghost who is now tied to her house. Frankie agrees to help her find the money to keep her house (which is now his, too) if she’ll do what it takes to free his ashes from the dirt and thus, free him from being stuck either at the house or wherever she took his urn.
Verity and Frankie are hired by Beau Wydell’s older brother, Ellis, to help him with an angry ghost that is tearing up all the renovations he’s making on the property he bought. In the process, Verity sees that Ellis is nothing like his brother and Ellis learns the truth of what happened between Verity and his brother. Ellis is also a cop so he manages to accept the truth about Verity’s ghost gift and ghosts even while they work to solve what is shaping up to be a dangerous hunt for the truth that someone wants to keep unknown.
The novella, A Ghostly Gift, continues with Verity determined not to do any more ghost hunting, but still needing to make ends meet so she does a design job for her sister Melanie’s friend who owns an antique shop. Julie can’t pay, but agrees to trade Verity for household goods Verity needs from her store. Julie knows her store in the old part of town is haunted and doesn’t mind until one of the ghosts gets aggressive and begins breaking her pieces. Verity agrees to help and tows a reluctant Frankie along to help her figure out what has the ghost riled up.
Skeleton in the Closet sees Verity and the rest of Sugarland gearing up for the big celebration and festival. The town’s claim to fame was a Civil War battle fought on its doorstep and the town repelled the invaders. Founding families, the Wydells and the Jacksons are feuding over the historical displays. Verity is distracted when her ex tries wooing her again. But then the historical society volunteer’s body is found murdered just after she shares with Melanie that she found something important among the historical display items. This call puts Melanie and Verity under suspicion straining her relationship with Ellis so now she has to drag Frankie and the ghosts at the library into helping her solve the case.
Included in this edition is: how the first book came about, graphic sketches of Verity’s old family home, character sketches, the development of the covers and graphics of the ones not chosen, and deleted scenes. These extras make up about the last ten percent of the book so they are interesting for the fan and I enjoyed paging through it all. I’m not sure I would purchase this set specifically to get them if one already has the series books, but then again, it’s a fabulous limited edition that’s way more than affordable for what you get and the e-book edition graphics are crystal clear.
I love the light and humor mixed with a moderately hair-raising ghostly mystery adventures. Verity is an engaging lead character and narrator. I love that she has a pet skunk, Lucy, her bright researcher librarian sister, Melanie, southern manners and this second chance at something special with the stolid and handsome Ellis. Frankie is a fun and sparkling character in the series and he feels authentic the way he raises Cain and makes his deals with Verity before agreeing to help. The mystery and all the ghostly activities is a neat world the author created. It was fabulous revisiting the earliest stories in the series that withstood the test of a reread and also getting the extra special edition gems to please a fan. I can recommend this boxed set for fan and newbie alike.