Carolyn Hart’s paranormal cozy mystery Ghost at Work evokes all the warm feelings you get from the Christmas classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
In the movie, Clarence the angel is trying to earn his wings. In this novel, redhead ghost Bailey Ruth Raeburn, formerly of Adelaide, Oklahoma, is going to protect the innocent.
Carolyn Hart has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a seasoned mystery writer who knows exactly how to misdirect the reader. In this book, she fooled me—and Bailey Ruth—completely.
Bailey Ruth—like Clarence—is a greenhorn in the human-helping game. She volunteers at heaven’s Office of Good Intentions. New training would have included learning the Seven Precepts for Earthly Visitation, but Bailey Ruth is urgently needed in her former Oklahoma hometown.
Kathleen Abbott, a minister’s wife, has just found a dead body on the rectory back porch. Like church wives everywhere, Kathleen must remain above suspicion. The problem is Kathleen has had some shady interactions with the dead man. Someone knows about their relationship and has left the body on the back porch to implicate Kathleen in the murder.
Even though a minister’s wife might presumably believe in divine guidance, Kathleen has trouble trusting that Bailey Ruth is there to assist her. Bailey Ruth has to learn the human-helping ropes quickly, and she can’t help but break the Precepts time and time again in the interests of justice.
Wiggins, Bailey Ruth’s heavenly supervisor, is horrified at Bailey Ruth’s impulsiveness. His dismay includes Bailey Ruth’s fall to temptation when she sneaks a hamburger and fries from a restaurant she used to love on earth. People weren’t accustomed to seeing a lunch sack float down the street.
When she doesn’t have her hands full trying to protect Kathleen, Bailey Ruth goes to see how her grown-up children are faring. Her daughter tells a friend that she had the strangest feeling her mother was there. How tempting to think that could be true.
Part of the enjoyment of this novel is Bailey Ruth’s super powers. She can zip from place to place by thinking about being there. She can change her clothes by conjuring up an outfit. She can be invisible or not. When she was invisible and fought with the police chief over possession of the dead man’s cell phone, it was just plain fun. The only way she could distract the police chief was to pinch his behind.
Some readers like to keep their cozy mysteries set firmly with a living, breathing amateur detective. However, if you’re a fan of the paranormal and like the feel-good movie It’s a Wonderful Life, this book is for you.
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Till next time,