"Excellent detective story with great main characters!"
Reviewed by Miranda Owen
Posted January 4, 2015
INSPECTOR SPECTER is Book six in the
cozy mystery series by E.J. Copperman. Although INSPECTOR
SPECTER is part of a series, I feel that a reader who may
be new to the series will still be able to enjoy this
story. E.J. Copperman does a good job of giving background
information on the main characters to help establish who
they are and what their relationships to each other are.
With ghosts, gangsters, a missing detective, and a baby
thrown into the mix, INSPECTOR SPECTER is a book that
really keeps you guessing.
As with the previous book in this series, Alison has a few
mysteries to solve. In addition to a policeman's death
under unusual circumstances, she also has her client's
disappearance to contend with. I love the dual mysteries
and find them both to be completely engrossing. The shady
characters scattered throughout INSPECTOR SCPECTER are
reminiscent of the type found in a Raymond Chandler novel.
I worried, at first, that the baby in the story would be a
problem but it didn't have a negative impact on the
detective work. Once again, E.J. Copperman's style of
telling makes me feel as though I'm in the thick of things
hunting down leads along with the main characters.
The main characters in this Haunted Guesthouse
Alison and her human and ghostly mixed family -- are so
likable and are a big part of what keeps me coming back
each new book. Alison's boyfriend Josh is a nice addition
to the series and I like that there is no romantic drama
distract from the mystery. The little subplot involving
ghost and fellow detective team member Maxie is an
interesting side story. I love that the ghosts, including
Alison's father, not only help Alison on cases but are her
friends as well.
INSPECTOR SPECTER is an engaging detective story that
you guessing. The varied ghost population makes for some
great main and secondary characters. I love this mystery
and can't wait for the next installment!
Just when she thought she’d seen everything…
Detective Lieutenant Anita McElone is one of Harbor
finest. She’s also a hard-boiled ghost skeptic. So when
shows up on the doorstep of Alison Kerby’s Haunted
Guesthouse to ask for supernatural help in solving the
murder of her former partner, it’s hard to tell which
is more flabbergasted.
But McElone is dead serious, so Alison promises to help in
any way she can—even asking her resident ghosts, Paul and
Maxie, for help with the case.
As Paul’s spirit source reveals some troubling information
about the deceased detective, Alison wrestles with what to
tell McElone. First, though, she has to find her…because
lieutenant has suddenly disappeared.
I was stripping white paint off the paneling in the new home
theater (formerly game room) of my guesthouse when the cell
phone in my pocket vibrated, indicating a text.
Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered to check the phone
immediately, at least not before I’d finished the task at
hand and showered—and very likely changed my clothes,
ordered dinner and straightened up a couple of rooms—but my
daughter, Melissa, was at her friend Wendy’s house this
afternoon and might have been texting to let me know she
needed a ride home or (more likely) to ask if she could
spend the night there.
Such are the thrills of summer vacation. You’re only eleven
I wiped my hands off the best I could, then let the rag fall
onto the drop cloth I’d carefully placed under the work
area. I am nothing if not prepared.
But the text I’d received was not from Melissa; it was from
Detective Lieutenant Anita McElone of the Harbor Haven
Police Department. My breath stopped for a second. When your
eleven-year-old isn’t at home, you really don’t want to get
a call from the police. I knew McElone a little, but we
weren’t what I’d call “friends,” and she’d never contacted
me out of the blue before.
The text read: “COME OUTSIDE TO YOUR PORCH.”
That took some of my panic away but piqued my curiosity. I
looked out the window of the home theater—therein lies a
tale; it was slated to become a fitness center for the
guests until I found out how much exercise equipment
costs—and sure enough, McElone was standing on the front
porch next to the glider, hands clasped behind her, pacing.
I sighed. The big scaredy cat. Lieutenant McElone, one of
the most unflappable people I have ever met, is afraid to
come into my house because she thinks she’ll see a ghost.
Which is silly. McElone can’t see the ghosts who stay in my
Perhaps I should explain.
Melissa and I moved to Harbor Haven, the town where I grew
up, about three years ago after a divorce from a man I call
“The Swine,” although that sometimes makes me feel like I’m
insulting actual pigs. I bought the property at 123 Seafront
because I wanted to start a new life for us here on the
Jersey Shore, and I’d been in the process of renovating the
place when things changed after a freak . . . we’ll call it
an “accident” . . . left me with a severely bruised head, a
concussion, and the ability to see ghosts.
Specifically, Paul Harrison and Maxie Malone, who had been
inhabiting the old Victorian since they’d been murdered on
the premises. Once they realized that I could see them,
they’d wanted me to find out who had killed them. But that’s
a story told elsewhere.
As it turned out, I was not the only member of my family who
could see Paul and Maxie, though I was the only one who’d
had to sustain a head injury first. My mother and Melissa
were both professional-level ghost communicators and had
been keeping that little fact from me for, let’s say all my
life in Mom’s case and all her life in Melissa’s. But I have
forgiven them. I am magnanimous. And it comes in handy now
that my father has passed away. I’m sad he’s dead, but he’s
still around a lot. My family is an emotional roller
coaster. Probably in a different way than yours.
I took a breath before heading outside to McElone. I’d
specifically chosen this moment to work on the theater
because I was, for once, alone in my thoughts, something
that almost never happens around the guesthouse. With Liss
at her friend Wendy’s and all six of my current guests out
at the beach on this scorching hot day, the only “company”
I’d normally have had would be the ghosts. But Maxie, who’d
recently developed the ability to leave the property, had
decided to go visit her mother, and Paul, who still can’t
wander farther than my property line, had been . . . not
upset, and not exactly broody lately, had been showing signs
of some ennui, which he had not explained. I decided he was
a grown man—if a dead one, which would understandably bum
anyone out—and I’d let him work out his issues until he
brought them up himself.
Wiping off my hands again, I walked out of the theater, down
the corridor to the entrance, and opened the door. A blast
of heat and humidity, which you tend to forget about when
you’re living in air-conditioning, smacked me hard in the face.
McElone wasn’t even sweating. I’d been exposed to the
tropical wave for three seconds and was already feeling
moist, but she had no human responses. She was, I had
decided long before, not so much a regular person as a cop
who occasionally took in air to survive.
“This is what it’s come to?” I asked. “You text me from my
own front porch because you’re afraid of my house?”
“I’m not afraid,” she protested. “I’m just not interested in
seeing any more than I already have.” The lieutenant has
been witness to a few of the less conventional events that
take place in my house. Events that several of my guests pay
good money to witness, but the novelty of it is lost on McElone.
“You sure you don’t want to come inside?” I tried. “I
promise there are no ghosts around at the moment, and it’s
got to be a hundred degrees out here.”
McElone held up a hand at the very suggestion, which made
her look a little like a very imposing cigar store Indian.
Cigar store Native American? “I’m fine here.”
There was a tentative quality to her that I’d never seen
before. McElone doesn’t actually have a sense of humor, but
she’s usually sharper in conversation than this.
Something was bothering her.
It probably would have been bothering her more if she’d
known that despite my assurances about the lack of ghosts,
Paul had just risen up from the crawl space under the front
porch and was watching her closely. “You didn’t call the
lieutenant, did you?” he asked, knowing full well that I
wouldn’t answer him directly with her there.
“What brings you here, Lieutenant?” I asked for both our
sakes. “Have there been complaints about the guesthouse
again?” Locals in Harbor Haven know the stories about the
place, and I had recently installed a prominent sign, just
to the left of the front door, that read proudly, “Haunted
Guesthouse,” replacing a temporary one Melissa had made on
But occasionally, the odd—and some of them are very
odd—tourist or a townsperson with an especially prickly
nature makes a complaint at the police station about “weird
goings-on” or “strange noises” emanating from the house.
None of which is actually true, since the ghosts can’t be
heard at all if you don’t have the ear for it.
“Do you remember Martin Ferry?” McElone asked, out nowhere.
“Detective Ferry?” I asked. I remembered him as a
sour-natured detective in Seaside Heights who had once
reluctantly shared some information with me. We hadn’t hit
it off so much as we’d tolerated each other. “Wasn’t he your
partner before you came here to Harbor Haven?”
McElone nodded. Then she shuddered a little, bit her lip and
looked like she was fighting tears. “He’s dead,” she said
finally, forcing the words out.
“Oh, Lieutenant,” I said. I’ve never called McElone by her
name, only her rank. We don’t have that kind of
relationship. “I’m so sorry to hear it. Was it sudden?” I
recalled Ferry as a middle-aged man with a prodigious belly;
I wondered if his heart had given out.
“Very sudden,” McElone answered. “Somebody shot him.”
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