Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: Murder on the Ghost Walk by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the first in the Magnolia Mysteries series and is set in Wilmington, NC.  For those that have noticed the names, the main character, Ashley Wilkes, confesses that she and her sister were indeed named from Gone with the Wind; her mother was a fan of the movie.

Ashley is a recent college graduate specializing in historic preservation and working on her first project since returning to Wilmington, her home town.  Her client is a bit controlling and somewhat over the top.  While trying to deal with schedule changes from said controlling client, two bodies are found in the wall of the house they are restoring.  The mystery goes from there and by itself isn’t too bad.

Interspersed with the mystery is a side story involving her mother and her father, which I didn’t really realize until the end.  There is also an attempt at a romance here, which I’m still can’t decide if it worked or not.  She’s not the first author to try to do a mystery romance.  The romance is okay, but almost comes across as something akin to a high school crush.  Overall, the main character comes across as a little immature and I’m not sure that’s what was intended.   Young doesn’t necessarily equal immature.

While the book itself is okay, it was hard to get past the writing style at times.   There were times when the the leap from one scene to the next seemed to have gaps.  She’s just up in the morning and checking work at the house then suddenly she’s at dinner.  It’s filled in, but the pace seemed a little jerky.  Then, some of the dialog was just bad.  I had to wonder if it was edited, especially when a sentence like this pops up: “That’ll learn you I thought.”  Seriously, that sentence is in the book and no matter how good the potential for the mystery, a sentence like that just overshadows the whole book.  Granted, bad grammar is spoken, however, this is a college graduate who is trying to start her own business.  The assumption is she knows proper grammar.

Even with all the flaws in this book, as mentioned at the beginning, I do think the mystery itself was fairly well done.  I also like the Southern setting and Ashley’s profession of historic preservation.  I feel like a good portion of the book (the sidelines with her mother, her sister, the “romance”) are to set the stage for the series.  I do plan on reading the next book in this series before making a final call.  Recommended if you’re looking for a basic little mystery.