Lila Bruce is the queen of opening paragraphs. I mean, seriously, I haven’t read all her books yet, but the opening of Little Lies was excellent, the start of Love Bites was hilarious, and here’s how Chasing Shadows begins: “For a dead woman, Loralyn Baker looked pretty damned good”. If that first sentence doesn’t make you want to keep reading, I don’t know what will.
After her parents died, Avery Smith came back to Bethel Springs, Alabama, to live with her grandma Mildred and Jane, her grandma’s best friend, or, rather, her sidekick, since Mildred is always up to some mischief. At the start of the book, Mildred and Jane are set on getting their hands on Laralyn Baker’s peach cobbler recipe. They’ll stop at nothing, not even searching the dead woman’s body on the eve of the funeral service. As a police detective, all their shenanigans often put Avery in difficult positions.
Cameron – Cam – Reinhart was Loralyn’s great-niece and she’s in town to settle her aunt’s affairs. Avery may not have noticed her as a high school student with a crush on the older girl but she definitely notices her now. Despite their meeting in less than favourable circumstances, they end up getting along quite well. Cam is now some sort of TV celebrity, with her own show and fans. Years ago, she became a ghost hunter by accident and jumped on the occasion to leave a dead-end job. Ghosts don’t exist but who cares?
Until they start talking to her…
I know I’m saying this quite often now but I didn’t expect to laugh so much. Blame it on the old ladies… I always thought Robin Alexander wrote the best snarky old ladies but Mildred can definitely hold her own.
I loved Avery and Cam too. Avery is a sweetheart, no wonder Cam has been smitten with her forever. She’s smart, patient and kind. Cam seems more cynical but her vulnerability to Avery and her brand-new experience with ghosts bring her real personality to the surface.
The mystery part is rather exciting too, with just enough suspense and scary moments (not only because, you know, ghosts). What I liked best, however, is the humour, the banter between Avery and Cam, the eccentric Mildred and the not-so-innocent Jane.