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The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait, May 2021
Haunted Bookshop Mystery #7
by Cleo Coyle

Featuring: Penelope Thornton-McClure; Jack Shepard, PI
320 pages
ISBN: 0425251861
EAN: 9780425251867
Kindle: B08274WCLM
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
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"Another extraordinary cozy mystery by Cleo Coyle!"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait
Cleo Coyle

Reviewed by Teresa Cross
Posted June 10, 2021

Mystery Paranormal | Mystery Private Eye | Mystery Woman Sleuth

Cleo Coyle did it again with the newest Haunted Bookshop Mystery, THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED PORTRAIT! Fans have waited a long time for Jack, the gumshoe ghost, to come back and grace our presence with his charming ways. You cannot help but love and adore him with his smooth-talking and brilliant brain. I rush to buy this series, as I’m sure many do, every time because of Jack. Of course, I love all the characters. 

Funny and suspenseful, this cozy mystery has a lot to keep you entertained. The characters are lovable and just like Coyle’s other mystery series, you feel like you are reconnecting with family and friends when you pick it up to read. The best thing is Coyle can take such serious situations and write them in a believable way, but at the same time, add some lightheartedness to them, too. 

Penelope Thornton-McClure, aka Penny, works full-time at her bookshop, but part-time (without pay) as the town's sleuth. She gets help from the ghost that occupies her bookshop, Jack. In the 1940s, he was a PI who cracked some pretty tough cases that he reminisces on to help Penny to solve hers. Together they make a great team. Penny is collecting vintage book cover paintings for a special event at her bookshop. When the owner of those paintings turns up dead, it makes them question a portrait of a beautiful woman who is said to have gone mad, and gossip also has it that the painting is cursed. Accidents happen all around it, leaving Penny and Jack to get to the bottom of all the secrets before it is too late. 

If you love cozy mysteries, especially if you are already a fan of Cleo Coyle’s Coffee Shop Mysteries, then you’ll love THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED PORTRAIT. This husband and wife writing team brings so much more than a great story to their writing, they also bring you new friends. 

Learn more about The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait


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.


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