Solving murders in a ghostly way

A nasty stomach bug left me with little energy so I mostly napped and read. I love to read, but just couldn’t seem to focus well so I selected something light, fluffy and fun.

The e-book “Agnes Barton Paranormal Mysteries Series” by Madison Johns was just right. It’s actually a three book set, but I’ve only read “Haunted Hijinks” so far.

Agnes Barton and her best friend Eleanor have quite a reputation around the small city of Tawas, Michigan. The two have become well known for finding dead bodies and then finding the killer(s). Agnes is 72. She has a 40-something daughter, Martha who lives in a motorhome parked on the beach and a son, Stuart, who finished college and pretty much disappeared. He says he travels for historical research, but who really knows. She also has a handsome fiancé named Andrew who adores her and encourages her investigations.

She had no intentions of changing anything in her life until a car accident had her out cold for three days. She awoke to see Andrew standing near her bed, Stuart sitting in a chair, and a ghostly presence hovering nearby. She chalks it up to the concussion, but the ghostly young woman continues to appear.

There’s little time to think about the ghost because she and Eleanor are hired to oversee the opening of the Butler Mansion as a bed and breakfast. The beautiful old mansion has a long history of deaths and scandals and is rumored to be haunted, so working there is exciting.

When they arrive the front door is lock. Strangely, the ghost leads them to the back door and into the house where they find a body at the bottom of the steps. They assume it must be Katherine Clark, the woman hired by the owner Sara Knoxville to get the mansion ready. They also note that she has no visible injuries. Somehow they must divide their time between getting mansion cleaned and finding out who Katherine Clark was and why she died.

Meanwhile Agnes learns that her ghost is named Caroline and is somehow connected to Butler Mansion. She explains that she wants to help Agnes and Eleanor solve crimes. But how does Agnes tell Eleanor that they have a ghostly assistant? Sara asks them to stay at the mansion and they encounter other ghostly creatures, but that’s not the only one in residence.

Dashing between the mansion and investigating they discover that her “real” name was Barbara Beasley and she had a shady history. That leads them to question some of their older friends where they learn that Katherine was bilking seniors with a phony investment scheme, but did one of them kill her?

Before they can dig deeper Agnes stumbles into an FBI undercover operation in which Stuart and his wife are key players. With their scam exposed he sneaks into the mansion during the grand opening hoping to force Agnes to help them find the money Katherine hid there, but are thwarted thanks to Caroline and the mansion’s very disagreeable ghosts.

Stuart and the FBI take over the crime scene, leaving Agnes alone to follow a ghostly figure up to the third floor. There she discovers the “cleaning crew” taking bricks out of the fireplace. One is Katherine’s brother and insists he only wants to find the money. Once again, the long dead residents of the room make themselves known and set things right. I’d say it was a pretty good mystery with plenty of fun tidbits.

The list of things we don’t know is far longer than what we do know. Keep your mind open and let your public library help you explore what’s true and what’s not. Come in this week and check it out.

“Haunted Hijinks”
AUTHOR: Madison Johns
PUBLISHER: Outrageous Books
PUBLISHED: Aug. 11, 2014
PAGES: 172