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I've ever read."
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"This one will keep
"Some of the most
H a u n t e d
A ghostly mystery series
Cleo Coyle originally wrote
under the pen name
Alice Kimberly and is now
writing as Cleo Coyle.
The prim bookseller and
hardboiled ghost team up again
to catch a cunning killer in...
The Ghost and
the Bogus Bestseller
"He is hardboiled in the tradition
of Philip Marlowe, and she is a genteel
Miss Marple; yet the two opposites
make an explosive combination..."
—Midwest Book Review
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titles in order and read brief
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with a haunted twist!"
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"Combining elements of cozy mysteries
with detective noir, throwing in a bit of
the paranormal, this is a series that will
please any mystery fan."
—The Reader's Connection
Meet the widow,
After her husband’s suicide, young widow Penelope Thornton-McClure moves herself and her young son from New York City back to her little New England hometown of Quindicott, Rhode Island. When she arrives, however, she finds her aunt Sadie Thornton in financial trouble and about to lose the family's old bookshop.
Unwilling to allow the business to fail, Pen cashes her late husband’s life insurance money and uses every penny to overhaul the inventory and remodel the place. As fate would have it, the construction rouses the spirit of a dead man, a private investigator from New York who’d been gunned down on the premises in 1949 while investigating a murder.
Waking from a half-century of slumber, the hard-boiled ghost is less than thrilled to find himself cosmically imprisoned within the fieldstone walls of Pen’s bookstore...
In life, Jack's pulse pounded to the rhythm of the city streets: the smoky dice joints and swingin’ suds clubs. Why couldn’t he have been gunned down in a joint like that? Instead, he got lead poisoning in the god-forsaken sticks, eternity in cornpone alley. There's only one thing that makes this backwater existence tolerable. Her name is Penelope...
Okay, so the broad is one of those annoying do-right, fair-play Jane types, but she has a nice face, a sweet voice, and Jack always had been a sucker for redheads. If he hears her thoughts right, Penelope doesn't even believe in ghosts. Well, he never believed in them, either. But, brother, had he been wrong.
Now he's a disembodied spirit, sentenced for his sins to exist in a world he hardly knows. Lucky for him his purgatory comes with an auburn haired angel, a doll named Penelope he can't stop watching or watching over...
You can talk to Jack on Facebook.
"Friend" the Ghost at this link:
READ THEIR BOOKS
In 2004, Cleo Coyle launched her Haunted Bookshop Mysteries under the pen name Alice Kimberly. The first book is now in its 12th printing and there are 5 novels published with a 6th book, The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller, to be published by Penguin Random House's Berkley imprint Septmeber 25, 2018.
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The Ghost and
The spirit is willing...
to catch a killer.
Young widow Penelope and her Aunt Sadie are making ends meet by running their newly remodeled mystery bookshop, a quaint New England landmark, rumored to be haunted. Pen may not believe in ghosts, but she does believe in good publicity—like nabbing Timothy Brennan for a book signing. But soon after the bestselling thriller writer reveals a secret about the store's link to a 1940's murder, he keels over dead, right in the middle of the store's new Community Events space. Who gives Mrs. McClure the first clue that it was murder? The bookstore's full-time ghost, a PI who was murdered on the very spot more than fifty years before. Is he a figment of Pen's overactive imagination? Or is the oddly likeable fedora-wearing specter the only hope Pen has to solve the crime? You can bet your everlasting life on it.
“Listen to me, baby, all that counts now is you and your son. You’re in it together. Isn’t that what you told the kid this morning?”
“I don’t believe it," I told the ghost. "You were there this morning? With us? Upstairs, in Spencer’s bedroom? You heard me say that?”
“Uh, so anyway, doll, let’s get back to the case—”
“Oh, no you don’t. I want you to answer my question. Were you spying on us? On me? Upstairs in our private rooms?”
“I like to think of it as surveillance.”
“Well I forbid you to go up there again.”
“Lady, you can’t lay down house rules to a man with no body.”
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The Ghost and
the Dead Deb
Don't haunt the
This was the only rule that bookshop owner Penelope had given her resident ghost, hard-boiled private eye Jack Shepard. "Don't haunt the customers!" But when the hot young author Angel Stark arrives at the store to promote her latest—a book of true crime—Jack can hardly contain himself. After all, crime is his specialty. Angel's books is an unsolved mystery about a debutante found strangled to death, and it's filled with juicy details that point a finger at a number of people in the deb's high society circle. But when the author winds up dead too—in precisely the same way—Pen is fast on the case...which means Jack is too. After all, a ghost detective never rests in peace.
“In my day, dames with money from well-heeled families hired me to help them duck scandal on the QT. The last thing they’d ever do was write a book about it and tart it up in front of a ham-handed audience for applause.”
The booming, masculine voice in my head was either the ghost of PI Jack Shepard or a delusion of my half-demented mind. Which was true? Take your pick.
“It’s a different world than the ’40’s, Jack,” I silently replied.
“I liked my world better," Jack said. "The uptown crowd kept their trashy messes in the back alley, not on their bookshelf.”
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The Ghost and the
Dead Man's Library
Jack Shepard didn’t have much use for books when he was alive. Now that he's dead, he has even less interest in the crate of dusty old tomes that arrive at the bookshop he’s been haunting. Penelope, on the other hand, is thrilled with the delivery. The rare old Poe library was willed to her shop by an elderly admirer of her aunt Sadie’s. The dead man’s library is so valuable that Pen is inundated with astronomical offers for every volume in the set. Everything appears rosy, until Pen begins to sell the books, one by one…and one by one each buyer dies. The police don’t believe Pen’s theory—that these deaths are linked to the rare book purchases. In fact, the police don’t believe these deaths are murders at all. Pen, of course, knows differently, which means it’s time to persuade her hard-boiled haunter to stop resting in peace, start cracking some clues, and make sure this twisted Poe freak kills...nevermore.
“Need a bedtime story, baby?”
“Jack?” I whispered into the dark.
“Well, it ain’t Clark Gable.”
I closed my eyes and sighed, happy to hear his voice. “Strange,” I whispered.
“What?” the ghost asked.
“I never would have thought there’d be so many things in life more disturbing than talking to a dead man.”
My eyes opened again. I turned onto my side, hugged a pillow to me. “I can’t get the image out of my head.”
“You mean, Peter Chesley’s broken old body, lying like a pretzel at the base of the staircase he couldn’t climb?”
“I was right there, Jack...I was right there with Mr. Chesley, and I heard that crash upstairs. I knew something was wrong, but I left! I drove away!...He didn’t deserve to die like that. Nobody does.”
“Baby…who do you think you’re talking to?”
by her past...
The Movie Town Theater is holding its first ever Film Noir Festival, with Penelope Thornton-McClure handling book sales for the guest speakers, including screen actress Hedda Geist. The legendary femme fatale has been out of the spotlight for decades. Unfortunately, the moment she steps back into it, she's nearly killed. Then other guests start to die, and Penelope wants to know why her little town's film noir weekend has taken a truly dark turn.
With local police on the wrong track, Penelope enlists the help of Jack Shepard, PI. Okay, so Jack hasn't had a heartbeat since 1949, when he was gunned down in what is now Pen's store. But the hard-boiled ghost actually remembers Hedda's dark past and Penelope is sure he can help solve this case--even if he and his license did expire more than fifty years ago...
“Keep it down, Jack," I warned. "I’m watching a movie."
“I can see that, doll. I’m just surprised Hollywood took a turn for the worse. I thought by now they’d be making new pictures, not recycling the same old lamp-lit celluloid...”
“We’re not in your day anymore, Jack. This film isn’t being recycled for lack of product. It’s part of a retrospective on the film noir genre.”
“The film WHAT genre?”
“Film noir. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it. I know you were alive when it first emerged.” I named some of the genre’s titles to jog his memory.
“Yeah, okay...” Jack admitted. “I remember seeing some of those movies, but I can’t believe twenty-first century eggheads are getting hot and bothered about a bunch of B pictures that couldn’t afford color. Fancying them up with a French name’s about on the level with your generation’s buying water in a bottle...”
I paced the bookstore’s aisles, passing McBain and McCrumb, Paretsky and Poe, Sayers and Spillane, while considering the myriad motives for murder.
“Is the killing over now? Or just getting started?”
“Listen, baby, you can’t solve a puzzle when half the pieces are missing.”
“People guess at half-solved puzzles all the time!” I pointed out. “What about Wheel of Fortune? You can buy a vowel and sound out the words. You don’t need all the pieces.”
“That’s a game show, dollface. Guessing’s fine when you’re playing for Cracker Jack prizes, not when you’re dealing out life and death—and believe me, sweetie, I’m the voice of experience.”
“Wait a second, Jack! You’re on the other side. Dr. Lilly is, too, now. Can’t you...I don’t know, commune with the spirit world? Maybe you can get in touch with Dr. Lilly. Ask her what happened when she was alone in the store.”
“Sorry, baby, but this tomb’s all mine. Unless you take me places, I’m a prisoner in this glorified library, like some poor yegg left in Sing-Sing solitary. And as far as 'communing' with my fellow dead, nobody’s ever stuck around here to tell me squat. I wish I could call up some company, sweetheart. I can think of a few hot skirts from my past I wouldn’t mind looking up...”
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AND THE HAUNTED
Bookshop owner Penelope never
believed in ghosts, until she met the spirit
of Jack Shepard. Then Pen’s mailman,
Seymour Tarnish, gets into deep trouble,
and Pen not only believes in her ghost,
she asks for his help...
An elderly lady has been found dead on posh Larchmont Avenue, her will recently (and suspiciously) revised to name Seymour as heir to her mansion. Many eyes turn to the hapless mailman as the murderer, but Seymour doesn't care. He's too busy settling into his new digs.
Unfortunately, Seymour's new mansion appears to be haunted and when the ghosts begin plaguing him, he tries to hire a team of parapsychologists to exorcise every last spirit from the town of Quindicott. Now Pen must not only solve a murder, she must act fast to save her beloved ghost, because if these spirit zappers actually do their job, then the ghost of Jack Shepard finally will be history. And that scares Pen a lot more than rattling chains and cold spots.
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Jack and Pen
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Amanda Killgore, reviewer for Huntress and Eternal Night, interviewed Cleo/Alice about her Ghostly series. Cleo/Alice discusses inspirations for her Haunted Bookshop novels, including her love of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and (don't get spooked now) cemeteries.
Click here to read the interview
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