Lately the days have been getting a little tedious if the truth be known.
Even a pleasant routine is a routine, and when you are facing eternity—as I am—that idea becomes even more disturbing. I am fond of my hostess Alison Kerby and I have a comfortable existence in her guesthouse on the New Jersey Shore, but I am, after all, dead, and unable to leave the boundaries of Alison’s property. That means I’ll be here doing the same thing, day after day, for the foreseeable future. And perhaps after that.
When I first regained a state of conscious thought after my companion in the house Maxie Malone and I were poisoned a few years ago, it took a great deal of adjustment to understand our situation. I had been hired by Maxie as something of a bodyguard and was trying to get my private investigation agency off the ground. Maxie was a budding interior designer being threatened, threats that turned out to be all too real for both of us.
But that was years ago now, and I have agreed with Alison on a bargain: I want to keep investigating for people like myself who have left the mortal life but have not yet moved on to whatever plane of existence comes next. Since I am unable to move outside the property, I asked Alison to be my “eyes, ears and legs” in the living world. She reports to me and we solve cases together.
Her end of the bargain, being a woman running a guesthouse that caters to those who wish to have a “value-added experience,” was that Maxie and I participate in what she refers to as “spook shows” twice a day, giving her guests that contact with us they seem to desire, although it is somewhat demeaning to us and difficult for me to understand. But the guests seem to enjoy it, for their own reasons.
So, a typical day begins with some preparation for the morning spook show. We rattle some furniture, throw fruit back and forth to each other and Maxie, who has something of a vicious streak, will sometimes try to frighten the guests by spreading rubber cement on the walls or ruffling someone’s hair. Maxie is not receiving any part of the bargain and often reminds both Alison and me of that.
After the morning show we are left to our pursuits. When we have a case to investigate Maxie often is involved in Internet research, something she has show a remarkable aptitude for, and I try to make sense of any interviews or information Alison manages to gather.
When there is no case, I am left to contemplate an eternity that offers little variety of experience, and that is not a pleasant thought. So, I amuse myself with experiments and exploration of the realm in which I now exist.
Lately I have been working on a theory that people like Maxie and myself are composed purely of energy. This leaves open many possibilities for progress, including the slightest chance we might be able to move on to the next level of existence if my current experiment is a success. It will require some time and effort, and a large number of electronic devices from Alison’s basement.
All that might be sidetracked, however, when Alison’s ex-husband Steven Rendell (a man she calls “The Swine” when her daughter Melissa is not present) wakes up this morning. He flew in with Melissa from his home in California last night and has been acting in a suspicious manner. Alison is concerned, and I believe she might have some reason to worry. There are unsavory characters meeting with Steven and talk of violence. There could be trouble here soon.
Is it wrong for me to hope I can alleviate the boredom with an investigation involving Alison’s ex-husband? I will have to give that some thought. After all, I have nothing but time on my hands.
Spouse On Haunted Hill is the eighth book in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, December 2016.
Alison’s shady ex needs to use her haunted guesthouse as a hideout in the latest from the national bestselling author of Ghost in the Wind.
Where Alison Kerby’s ex-husband goes, trouble follows. This time, unfortunately, he’s brought that trouble right to her doorstep. On the run from a business deal gone bad, Steven, aka “the Swine,” owes some scary people a staggering sum of money. No need to panic, though. He has a plan: Sell Alison’s Jersey Shore guesthouse to pay them off.
Before Alison has a chance to read Steven the riot act, he disappears—after a mysterious man trailing him ends up full of bullet holes. Now the police are next to darken her doorway. For all his faults, Steven is still the father of Alison’s daughter, so with the help of ghosts Maxie and Paul, Alison sets out to find her ex and clear him of the murder. But if the bad guys get to him first, he may not have a ghost of a chance. . .
# # # # # # # # # # #
About the author
Paul Harrison and the full cast of characters from the Haunted Guesthouse series returned in Spouse On Haunted Hill December 6. E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse series and the Mysterious Detective series (Written Out), and with Jeff Cohen, the Asperger’s Mystery series (The Question Of The Felonious Friend). You can find E.J. at www.ejcopperman.com.
All comments are welcomed.