Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and her gumshoe ghost team up to solve the stunning mystery at the heart of a madwoman’s self-portrait in this all new installment from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.
While gathering a collection of vintage book cover paintings for a special event in her quaint Rhode Island bookshop, Penelope discovers a spooky portrait of a beautiful woman, one who supposedly went mad, according to town gossip. Seymour, the local mailman, falls in love with the haunting image and buys the picture, refusing to part with it, even as fatal accidents befall those around it. Is the canvas cursed? Or is something more sinister at work?
For answers, Pen turns to an otherworldly source: Jack Shepard, PI. Back in the 1940s, Jack cracked a case of a killer cover artist, and (to Pen’s relief) his spirit is willing to help her solve this mystery, even if he and his license did expire decades ago.
Raymond Chandler once wrote that a dead man was the best fall guy in the world because he never talked back. I begged to differ. On the other hand, there was a possibility that the “PI spirit” haunting me wasn’t real at all. That he was no more than a figment of my fervent reader’s imagination.
Any therapist would say as much. “Jack is a syndrome,” they’d proclaim. The gruff, masculine voice in my head was an alter ego, my way of coping with the stresses of modern living. This hard-boiled “ghost” was merely a distillation of all the colorful characters I’d grown up reading about in my father’s library, the kind of spirited soul who was brave enough to speak the kind of frank thoughts that I was too polite to think, let alone permit myself to say.
As far as the “stresses” of modern living, I couldn’t deny I had a few. Being a widow, I’d endured my share of grief. Now a single mom, I was raising a headstrong boy, who lately enjoyed giving me some. And as a bookseller, well, let’s just say I was still alive, though the twenty-first century sometimes seemed determined to ghost me.
“We’re not dead yet!” my aunt Sadie Thornton liked to declare, usually in a Monty Python accent with a cheeky twinkle in her Yankee eye.
Start Reading THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED PORTRAIT Now
Our Past Week of Fresh Picks