Yes, just like you, I am susceptible to a good book review in the Sunday paper. That’s how I came to read ‘The Book of Beloved’ byCarolyn Haines. I don’t usually go for unsettling paranormal visitors or Civil War related tales, but something in the review made me curious and, in the end, I guess I’m glad I read it. And I think if you are into that sort of thing, you’ll probably love it.
That said, let’s get to the characters and the story itself. Raissa James is a young woman in the post-WWI era with a history of great loss that would seriously knock down anyone without a strong emotional constitution. But she’s determined to move on with her life and find happiness, despite lingering grief. So I was rooting for her, of course, who wouldn’t?
She’s a teacher with the summer off so she decides to take up her Uncle’s invitation to visit him at his stately and seriously haunted southern estate outside Mobile, Alabama. The era this novel is set in is critical to the story. There are still unhappy losers in the battle between the north and the south and while Civil Rights may be on the far horizon those who support it know to keep it to themselves. For anyone with a conscience, this is a dangerous place and time to be living.
Add in some very unhappy ghosts who do a heck of a lot more than say ‘boo!’, a titillating scandal from the past that will probably surprise you—maybe shock you if you are easily shocked, and muddle the mystery with a little romance, just to make it complicated, and you end up with a pretty good read. Personally, I tried to keep my reading to daytime hours, to avoid being too creeped out, but I was curious to see how all of these dead people would be appeased and sent on their spectral ways to a better place.
Did I mention this is a murder mystery too? Even though it’s at the heart of the story, it sort of felt secondary. Maybe that’s because I pretty much figured out whodunit very early on. I hoped our author would surprise me, but no, I was right. That happens, but it was still a fun resolution. And the addition about halfway through the story of a mystic wannabe who clearly will be part of the series was just what readers needed. It upped the ghosty part and added a fun new character who will complement our heroine well in future books.
Yes, this looks like it’s the start of a new series, based not only on the moniker ’Pluto’s Snitch Mystery 1’ after the title (I had to think hard to remember why ‘Pluto’s Snitch’, so pay attention if you care about that sort of thing) but also the end of this book is clearly the beginning of another and the start of a series. If you like your mysteries with a bit of the paranormal thrown in, check this one out.