Ghost At Work by Carolyn Hart

Ghost At Work details

  • Author: Carolyn Hart
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Public Library
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2008
  • Pages: 290
  • Series: Bailey Ruth
  • Book #: 1
  • Genre: Ghost Mystery

Review of Ghost at Work

Bailey Ruth wants to help people on Earth. She goes to the Office of Good Intentions in Heaven to ask if she can be part of their program. The head of the department is hesitant to give her an assignment because she is impulsive. She talks him into it, and he gives her a charge who happens to be her relative.

This seems a little too convenient. Of all the places he could send her, why to her hometown to help her relative? Considering he didn’t want to send her at first, it seems unlikely that there would be this perfect opportunity waiting for her.

Kathleen, the woman Bailey Ruth is supposed to help, is in a panic because there is a dead body on her porch. Moreover, she’s freaking out because she has good reason to want him dead.

Bailey Ruth is determined to do anything she can to help Kathleen and divert police attention away from Kathleen or her husband. She has a difficult time following the rules set forth by the Office of Good Intentions. It was very entertaining to watch Bailey Ruth get in trouble again and again. Here’s an example of an instance where she over steps her bounds as a ghost:

A box of paper clips sat near the in-box on the chief’s desk. I palmed a handful of clips and skimmed just above the floor, coming up behind the mayor.

“–as interloper’s is hardly appropriate.”

I delicately pulled back the rim of her blouse and dribbled several clips on her dowager’s hump. 

She shuddered with the grace of an ice floe cracking.

Chief Cobb looked at her sharply. “Neva?”

A meaty hand yanked at the back of her blouse. Her head jerked around.

I expected the pointy little clips were now lodged near her waist.

The mayor wriggled in her seat, took a deep breath. (p. 111)

Pacing, characterization, and setting were 5 stars. I had no complaints related to anything in those categories.

Most of the dialogue was written well, except for Bayroo’s. She was supposed to be a pre-teen in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, she sounded more like a little kid from the sixties or seventies.

I also took issue with the way the overall narration was written. Bailey Ruth makes comments about her less-than-ideal intelligence, yet Bailey Ruth apparently has an above-average vocabulary. I felt like this book should have been written in third person because it seemed like the author was putting herself in place of Bailey Ruth as the storyteller. This didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough for me to notice it.

Another problem I found was related to how Bailey Ruth told Bayroo to not let her mother, Kathleen, know that Bayroo can see Bailey Ruth. Then, a little later in the story, Bailey Ruth tells Kathleen that Bayroo taught her about computers. Kathleen doesn’t seem at all surprised by this. So, did Bayroo tell her? Or, did the author forget that Kathleen doesn’t know that Bailey Ruth can be seen by Bayroo? Again, later in the story, Bayroo communicates with Bailey Ruth in front of Kathleen. So, I think it was something the author forgot about.

A couple of other times, there were mistakes. For example, Bailey Ruth says something happened “last night,” when it had actually happened the night before last.

The mystery was not too obvious. I liked how the suspects were eliminated one by one. I was happy how it was resolved, for the most part.

What kept me from being fully satisfied with the mystery was an issue of a dropped clue. Bailey Ruth makes an effort to get the murder weapon into the hands of the police. But, the rest of the story proceeds without further mention of that gun.

It is never said who is the registered owner of that weapon or if there are fingerprints on it. If the police had processed it, they would have known immediately who the killer was. So, it seemed like the author intentionally forgot about that gun, so she would have an opportunity to solve the crime without it.

At one point, the chief is looking for Kirby’s gun. He already had the gun that Bailey Ruth had given him. Did he know that the gun in his possession didn’t belong to Kirby? If so, he must have run the registration. And if he had, why doesn’t he know who it belongs to and solve the crime? If he hadn’t run the registration, why was he bothering to look for Kirby’s gun? Wouldn’t he have assumed that the gun was Kirby’s?

The whole issue about the murder weapon was messed up. Despite that, I enjoyed reading Ghost at Work. I was entertained by Bailey Ruth’s antics. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble she gets into in the next book. So far, there are four books in this series. The most recent one was published in 2013.

I give this book a 4 star overall rating.