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July 15
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The Illustrated Corner,
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July 1, 2018
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A Ghostly Undertaking
Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1
by Tonya Kappes
Witness, $7.99, 304pp
Published: February 2015

On a warm winter day a plastic Santa fell off the roof of Artie’s deli and hit undertaker Emma Lee Raines on the head, knocking her cold and changing her life. When she wakes in the hospital she sees the ghost of Chicken Teater, a man she had buried four years earlier. Everyone thinks she is hallucinating; she hopes so as well, when Chicken Teater disappears but then her grandmother’s arch-nemesis, Ruthie Sue Payne dies and her ghost shows up telling Emma Lee she has been murdered. With her beloved grandmother a suspect Emma Lee knows she has to find out who really pushed Ruthie Sue down the stairs.

Our cast includes Emma Lee, her sister Charlotte Rae who runs Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, the family undertaking business together, their grandmother Zula Fae Raines Payne, who ran the local inn with the now deceased Ruthie Sue,  a handsome sheriff, Jack Henry Ross upon whom Emma Lou has had a crush since childhood and, of course, our ghost, Ruthie Sue. Along the way we have murder, attempted murder, tax fraud, small town dynamics and romance all leading up to a satisfying conclusion.

The characters are likeable and well-defined, the mystery is diverting, the ghost is, in turns, annoying, entertaining and likable. Like Emma Lee, I was rather sad to see her cross over.

This is the first in a series. It is quick, satisfying read and I look forward to reading the next three that are available. Recommended. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon 

Click title for reviews of the next three books in the series: A Ghostly Grave, A Ghostly Demise and A Ghostly Murder.

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