Sunday, December 20, 2020

Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past by Traci Wilton


Christmas cozy mysteries are a fairly new addition to my December reading, but they have quickly become favorites. This mystery, the third in the Salem B&B Mystery series, can be read on its own. I haven't read the first two, but I will probably go back and read them; mostly because I enjoyed this mystery and the characters. If you're interested in the first two in the series, they are Mrs. Morris and the Ghost, and Mrs. Morris and the Witch.

What drew me to this mystery: it takes place in Salem, MA, and there's a ghost involved. Mrs. Morris is Charlene, a recent transplant from Chicago. She's bought an old mansion and turned it into a B&B. That mansion has a ghost named Jack: a handsome ghost who only Charlene can see and talk to. There's a bit of flirty behavior going on between Charlene and Jack, but, well...kind of hard to see a future with a ghostly guy. Charlene moved to Salem to start fresh after her husband's untimely death. Now it's two years later, and while still not ready to invest in a new relationship, she does enjoy a slow simmering attraction to Sam, a Salem detective. 

It's a week before Christmas, and Charlene's parents are visiting. Her Mom is a bit of a pill, and her Dad is charming. A supper out at the local popular Italian restaurant Bella's begins this cozy mystery. A fundraiser for the local children's foster home has plenty of people at the restaurant, and when co-owner David gets up to speak, the excitement builds. He just won ten million in the lottery, and he's about to hand out a few checks. One check will help Felicity House expand and provide shelter for even more children in need. However, David's checks aren't quite what everyone expected, and in the midst of outrage, David heads outside, only to be hit by a car and left for dead in the street. 

There are lots of people who are suspects, and I honestly didn't know until close to the end who actually killed David. Was it the money hungry younger wife? His business partner? His son, angry over his Dad's lack of attention? Charlene just can't help herself, and starts asking questions. She may just put herself in danger if she isn't careful. 

This was a fun mystery. The focus is mostly on local restaurants and shops; some Salem tourist attractions are mentioned, too. A lot of the tension in the book comes from Charlene and her mother, who isn't happy her only daughter has moved away from Chicago. She also wants Charlene to find another partner, and is a bit pushy when she finds out about Sam. There's Jack, who has feelings for Charlene, and doesn't like to see Sam around. Yes, he's a ghost. Suspending belief is required! 

This helped me stay in the holiday mood over the weekend while I was baking cookies and hanging out at my boyfriend's non-holidayish home. We did finally get out a few things to make it look more festive-however my house is decorated and I missed being with my tree this weekend! I'm home tonight, tree lit and holiday scented candles burning. 

Off to my next holiday read-take care and spend some time soaking up the season! 

Rating: 3/6 for an entertaining cozy mystery. Easy to follow, even though it is the third in the series. For those who love quick reads, likeable characters, and the charm of Salem, Massachusetts, I'd recommend this series. 

Available in paperback and e-book.

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