Melanie Middleton is a single late 30s-something who lives for her real estate job, hates dogs, spurns romance, and is in total control. Ironically enough, she mocks her wealthy clients who wish to sink endless time and money into restoring the historic homes she sells them. All that comes back to haunt her – quite literally – when a man she’s met only once leaves her his crumbling historic home in his will. The terms of the will is that she use the money he leaves her to restore it and that she must live in the house for a year before she sells it. Melanie is furious, but hopes that with some help from her architectural historian friend, she can restore the house on Tradd enough to sell it for big bucks. When local author Jack Trenholm agrees to pitch in in exchange for a chance to go through the house’s attic archives, Melanie accepts the help but resists his smooth grin and slick ways. Jack says that the house was the site of a 1930s-era mystery that he’d like to write about, and Melanie isn’t about to turn away another set of hands to help with the enormous project. It’s when the ghosts appear, some benevolent, some much less so, that things get difficult and the mystery deepens. As restoration costs soar and the ghosts play their mischief, Melanie seriously doubts her commitment to seeing the project through.
A mixture of “Sixth Sense” and “The DaVinci Code”, I felt there were simply too many “complications” to be believable, many of which take away, rather than add, to the central storyline. Jack was jilted at the altar, but Melanie meets his financée’s ghost and has to right that wrong. The mystery involves a mother who disappeared, and Melanie’s mother left when she was quite young. Melanie has an alcoholic father, a deep fear of emotional intimacy, she has to meet her grandfather’s abandoned mixed race lover, solve several ciphers scattered around the house, uncover a suitor’s ulterior motives….. It’s just a lot and tends to become rather jumbled. Also, if you’re listening on Audible, the narrator’s accent felt stilted. I’m no accent expert, but it wasn’t a voice that improved the muddled storylines.
I’d recommend Karen White’s collaboration with authors Willig and Williams much more, “The Forgotten Room”, reviewed here.
Amazon link is here.