Friday, November 4, 2016

The Book of Beloved (Pluto's Snitch 1)

Author:  Carolyn Haines
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; MP3 CD; Ebook; Audible
ISBN #:  9781503938069; 9781522650157
Thomas & Mercer
330 Pages
$8.81; $8.81; $4.99 Amazon
August 9, 2016

Three Stars

As a young woman widowed by World War I, Raissa James is no stranger to ghosts.  But when an invitation arrives from Caoin House, her uncle's estate in Mobile, Alabama, she's finally ready to cast off the shadows of her past.  And what better way to do so than with a grand party in her honor?  An aspiring authoress, Raissa's eager to soak up more of life - and immerse herself in the dark history that haunts the estate.

But the revelries come to an abrupt end when one of her uncle's guests takes a deadly plunge.  And when a ghost from the property's past, a Confederate soldier, reveals himself to Raissa, she's more determined than ever to get to the heart of the mysterious deaths that plague Caoin House.  Enlisting the help of Reginald Proctor, a self-proclaimed medium, she holds a seance to shed light on old secrets.  But she discovers that some secrets, even those long dead, still have a startling hold on the living...


Raissa James is a schoolteacher in Savannah, still grieving the loss of her husband in World War I.  She is visiting her Uncle Brett, in Mobile, Alabama.  While there, she decides to use her talent as a writer, informing any and all that she wants to write ghost stories.  But what she also discovers about herself is that she has a talent for seeing and hearing ghosts...

When she departs for Mobile, she meets Robert Aultman on the train, a charming and handsome stranger, and finds out he is also headed to Caoin House, her uncle's estate.  When Robert dies while at the party given in her honor, she wonders why he was somewhere he never should have been in the first place.  While her decision is to find out more about him and how he died - she thinks it might have been murder instead of the accident the doctor proclaimed - she discovers the house holds old secrets, and someone would rather they weren't known.

Raissa soon also discovers that she can see and communicate with ghosts, especially the handsome Confederate soldier who stands beneath her bedroom window beckoning to her.  But when Raissa digs deeper and begins finding more than she bargained for, she puts her life in danger, and discovers it's not only the long dead ghosts that don't want you to find out the past...

I felt that the book began well, and I enjoyed reading it for the most part.  I actually like books that mix fact with fiction, but this book was...different.  The historical references that were mixed in seemed more like 'moral lessons'.  Unfortunately, every time I was deeply engrossed in the book, I was given another 'moral lesson' on society, and that pulled me back out, which greatly decreased my enjoyment.  History I enjoy, but preaching in a novel has never sat well with me at all.

There were also other historical aspects that bothered me.  A schoolteacher in 1920 smoking?  It would not have been tolerated - after all, they were teaching children and were expected to be held to a certain standard.  Wearing shorts to a garden party and no one was scandalized?  Not one single person thought she was 'fast'.  I understand that these scenes were to make us realize Raissa was an independent, forward-thinking woman, but it didn't work for me.  I also had reservations about the pictures and who photographed them, but that's another story altogether.  I also didn't feel that Robert was in the book long enough to even care about him, nor that his death was much a part of the storyline.

I really wanted to like this book, but there were so many situations that just didn't seem believable to me, which I won't go into here.  I also felt that there were many questions that were left unanswered  (ones I would like to have known the outcome).  Still, this was interesting enough to be a good start to a new series that left us with a tantalizing ending to the next book.

More on Carolyn Haines' Books:

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