ARC Review: A Ghostly Grave by Tonya Kappes

ARC Review: A Ghostly Grave by Tonya KappesAuthor: Tonya Kappes
Title: A Ghostly Grave
Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #2
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 288
Release Date: 2015-03-31
Genres: Mystery & Thriller
There's a ghost on the loose—and a fox in the henhouseFour years ago, the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home put Chicken Teater in the ground. Now undertaker Emma Lee Raines is digging him back up. The whole scene is bad for business, especially with her granny running for mayor and a big festival setting up in town. But ever since Emma Lee started seeing ghosts, Chicken's been pestering her to figure out who killed him.With her handsome boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, busy getting new forensics on the old corpse, Emma Lee has time to look into her first suspect. Chicken's widow may be a former Miss Kentucky, but the love of his life was another beauty queen: Lady Cluckington, his prize-winning hen. Was Mrs. Teater the jealous type? Chicken seems to think so. Something's definitely rotten in Sleepy Hollow—and Emma Lee just prays it's not her luck.
Format: eARC
Also by this author: A Ghostly Undertaking

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

Emma Lee has another murder to solve in A Ghostly Grave. This time it is Chicken Teeter who comes to her for help. He is the second ghost who can’t rest until a murderer is caught. The book picks up where the first book left off, but Kappes gives readers ample information to jump into the series without having read the previous book.

I enjoyed the antics of the secondary characters like Emma’s grandmother and the ladies of the Auxiliary. Chicken Teeter was quite comical as well, ranting about how his wife wasn’t taking good enough care of his precious hen. If you are looking for a light read with some humor, this is a good book to try. It wasn’t hysterically funny, but it was entertaining. The pace of the story is good and it’s a quick read.

My main complaint about this story is that Emma Lee seems underdeveloped. I don’t feel like I really know her other than who her family is, her job as an undertaker, and how she became a Betweener medium. I would like to know more about her motivations, likes, dislikes, and plans for the future. Although she’s tenacious at finding the murderer, she doesn’t seem to take the medium gig very seriously. She still thinks she can get rid of the ghost and go back to a normal life. I don’t see her as altruistic, kind-hearted, or spiritual. She makes references about helping the ghost cross over, but I feel like she mostly does it because she thinks it is the only way to get rid of him.

I also can’t figure out why her sister is such a snot to her or why she doesn’t have any friends. One woman helps her a little in this book, but they aren’t really friends. There has to be more to it than the stigma of ‘funeral trauma’ (a made up disorder to explain why she talks to people when there is no one there people can see). Wouldn’t she have had at least a friend or two from before she got hit in the head with the plastic Santa Claus or came down with ‘funeral trauma’?

Overall, I don’t care for her that much. She’s not even very good at solving mysteries. She gets a bunch of clues that point to the wrong person. Then, someone else figures it out for her. I would like to see Emma Lee expose the right killer all on her own without Jack Henry’s help or without the murdering blatantly exposing himself.

Another complaint I have is that there were some dropped clues and some repeated observations. For example, she doesn’t follow up on the break-in at the funeral home. Or, as another example, she jokes about Duckie’s name near the beginning of the story, and then jokes about it again near the end of the book like she had never learned his name before.

Despite my complaints, I am still interested in what the future holds for Emma Lee. I think that the silliness and antics of the secondary characters make up for the other problems. Because I find the Ghostly Southern Mystery series entertaining, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I recommend this series to people who don’t care who figures out the mystery as long as it is solved. If you like goofiness like a granny on a moped or a five-foot-tall man whose fake hair drips on his face, you should check out this series.

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