Seances Are for Suckers (An Eleanor Wilde Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – England
Kensington (October 30, 2018)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B079KSY8LN
When something goes bump in the night . . . it’s most likely a plumbing problem, or something equally mundane. But fake medium Eleanor Wilde is happy to investigate and cleanse your home of spectral presences—for a fee. Hey, it’s a living . . .
Ellie has an ailing sister to care for, and working as a ghost hunter who doesn’t believe in ghosts helps cover the bills for both of them. When she’s lucky, it also pays for the occasional tropical vacation. Her brother doesn’t exactly approve, but Ellie figures she’s providing a service. On her latest job, though, she may be in for some genuine scares.
The skeptical, reserved, and very rich Nicholas Hartford III has flown her all the way to his family’s ancestral estate in England—supposedly haunted by a phantom named Xavier. Nicholas thinks it’s all just as much a crock as Ellie’s business is, but the fact remains that something is causing the flashes of light, mysterious accidents, and other apparent pranks in the chilly, eerie castle. His mother is sure that Xavier is real, and he’s willing to employ Ellie if she can get to the bottom of it and put a stop to the nonsense.
While the food and accommodations are somewhat disappointing (dorm-room furniture? Really?), Ellie is finding it an adventure to get to know this eccentric family and their houseguests, and to poke around in the nearby village for clues. But when an actual dead body appears—and subsequently disappears—at Castle Hartford, she’ll have to apply her talent for trickery and psychological insight to solve a flesh-and-blood murder.
In this 1st book of this series, we meet Eleanor Wilde, a self-proclaimed fake medium. She is a ghost hunter that doesn’t believe in ghosts. Eleanor is turning peoples fears into profits to help pay the bills for her sister in a long-term care facility. Her current job takes her to a musty old castle in England. Nicholas Hartford III doesn’t believe in ghosts either but he is hoping Ellie can convince his mother that her ghost, Xavier has left the building. Ellie is up for the job but the rest of the Hartford, staff, family and their guest takes crazy to a whole new level. She is surprised by her accommodations and the food served is horrible, but she needs the money and she is not a quitter. Even after she stumbles upon a real dead body she doesn’t give up. In fact, solving a real murder could be quite interesting . . . if she lives to tell about it.
I really enjoyed the twist of a ghost hunter that knows she is a fake even though her customers may not. I also enjoyed the way this character evolved throughout the story. We learn why she has this job. People will pay exorbitant amounts of money to have “ghosts” removed from their lives and she has a very good reason for needing the money. A strong woman with fantastic observation skills that has not had an easy life, but still has a great sense of humor. She also has a connection, a secret, something I truly appreciated.
Enter Nicholas Hartford III who has his own motives for employing Ellis’s services. This character made me feel a gambit of emotions as the story continued. His mother was a very interesting character and at times made me laugh out loud. The rest of the supporting characters are all cleverly created and help to take this mystery through many twists and turns.
The castle is a fun setting for the book. The staircases, hidden spaces, long hallways, rooms, and gardens all have a truly creepy feel.
The story unfolds at a perfect pace and like our protagonist has many layers. The story was much more than I expected and was full of surprises. Especially the very end. So much happens within the pages and I found myself slowing down to savor the story to be sure I did not miss a single thing. At points the word that popped into my head was mayhem. I learned quickly to really expect the unexpected. This time a cat plays a crucial role. A cat we didn’t even meet until we were well into this story.
I was surprised by how much I came to care about Ellie and her sister Winnie. Her brother played a part too, but I was very attuned to the sisters.
If you love mysteries cozy or traditional this is a fun read you really need to pick up today. It is really different from the usual cozies I read.
I am very excited about this series and where the author will take Ellie next after the way the book concluded. Potions Are for Pushovers will be released next December. I hate having to wait that long but if this story was any indication it will be well worth the wait.
About the Author
Tamara Berry is a part-time author and part-time freelance writer/editor. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Eastern Washington University. In addition to books, she has mad love for all things TV, movies, and pop culture. Visit her at www.tamaraberry.com. Facebook – Twitter
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”