A Ghostly Demise: Tonya Kappes
What would you do if you could see ghosts? What would you do if you were an undertaker who for some reason has taken on another job? Emma Lee Raines sees ghost. You heard me. She sees ghosts and her title is a Betweener! She is there to assist, guide and help ghosts pass on to the other side. Some need to go to their final resting places and others just need peace. But, Emma’s day begins when someone she things has been missing for five years shows up as she is about to start her day. Cephus Hardy appears. He is her friend father’s and a deadbeat dad that supposedly just left town. Cephus was the town drunk who just vanished five years ago. But, things within the small town of Sleepy Hollow are hectic and this is just what she does not need. With her Granny running for Mayor against believe it or not another undertaker: O’Dell Burns, her boyfriend the Sheriff Jack Henry Ross wanting time with her alone but having to deal with goats on the loose eating the vegetables in someone’s garden, Cephus’s presence is just what she does not need. But, now she has to find out who murdered him. You see: he is no longer missing but his body, not his spirit is somewhere and she needs to find where. Meeting Cephus is a hoot because before he will tell anything all he wants is yearns for is an ice-cold Stroh. Imagine what happens when Emma tells Jack that she sees Cephus. Imagine his reaction! Wanting the ice cold is one thing but not giving her any information about how he died or his death is another. Poor Emma needs to resolve this really fast. But, what does Jack think about her ability to see ghosts? There is no body, evidence or any clues pointing to his death. How can they start an investigation?
As things progress and you meet all of the town gossips and we learn about Bea, Leotta, Mary Anna Hardy and the rest clues come to the surface even as simple as Granny giving out buttons to those voting for her and wait until you hear what happens when someone is voting for the opposition. Granny is a riot and running for Mayor and owning the funeral home is quite a different blend. Driving her moped through town and being chased by the Sheriff you can picture this right out a Laurel and Hardy Movie. Filled with humor, gossipers and some who are glad that Cephus is gone and the truth behind his drinking revealed, just who wanted him dead?
Chaos occurs the minute Cephus sees his archenemy Terk who he thinks if going out with his wife. What he does will remind you never to shun the dead or take them for granted as poor Terk winds up having to go to Dr. Clyde. Emma has all she can do to contain him while Granny places a sign in front of Eternal Home with her slogan for getting elected mayor. But, Charlotte Rae, her financial expert is not happy with the sign and the conversation is quite humorous. Added in now the carnival is in down and the man in charge Digger hits on Emma all the while trying to get clues to the murder. This ghost is relentless and throughout the book he manages to interfere with her date nights. His son Teddy comes back to town claims his wrestling coach took him in as a father further insighting our ghost. But, between Terk and Leotta or Vernon Blake and Leotta his wife seems to be getting around. With Vernon and Bea an odd item and his wife dating this ghost just wants to pin his murder on anyone that might fit the bill. But, Emma is determined to be the undertaker sleuth and the author created an original character whose traits are similar to Jessica Fletcher, Ms. Marple and maybe even Jennifer Hart. Things will spiral out of control as someone else winds up dead. Imagine what happens when the body of a carnie has a stake through the heart. Link this death to one of Granny’s campaign signs and just maybe someone doesn’t want her to win. Could this whole thing have anything to do with O’Dell Burns and those in his camp?
Things really spiral out of control when Emma decides to visit Vernon and finds Cephus’s ring in the grass. But, what happens when she texts Jack, finds her way to Dottie’s place and the goats are let out, Sanford needs to get them reeled in and the entire incident is out of an episode of Saturday Night Live. Accusing Vernon was only a ploy and if he was the killer Cephus would have crossed over. Oh Well! He’s still here!
Emma Lee Raines will not give up and Granny will do anything to become Mayor. This puts them both at odds with the Jack Henry who keeps warning Emma to stay out of the investigation. But, finding herself at the old mill, an explosion that was supposed to deal with her, and then Digger Spears getting killed someone really wants to stop her from finding out who killed Cephus.
Bea Allen is bent on getting O’Dell elected. Emma Lee offers free funeral services to Digger’s family and things spiral even more out of control. But, information from an investigative reporter that used to run the only paper in town that is now closed leads her to information that just might solve the mystery of who killed Cephus and why. A gambling debt but what was it for? A truth that comes out that changes everything and even Cephus will be surprised in the end. Having to deal with Cephus, his whims and his ghostly body was hard enough but two even more. Digger and Cephus would now haunt her presence until the mystery is solved. Who killed them both and why? What happens when Emma figures it out? Will the killer strike again? Will Cephus and Digger ever cross over or will they follow her around forever?
An election with startling results. A funeral undertaker/detective that risks it all to find a way to send two Betweeners to their final resting place. Author Tonya Kappes created a story that might remind readers of the series Dead Like Me where the reapers take the souls and then help the person cross over to the other side. So, what happens at the end will make you smile, laugh and wonder if poor Emma will ever be able to catch her breath and have a break from her job as a Betweener. But, if you look deep down inside the story you will realize that the author brings to light family loyalties, devotion, deceit, lies, betrayals, and a town that comes together when things go wrong. One small town of Sleepy Hollow whose residents put their differences aside when a member of their community needs help. A novel filled with mishaps, fun, humor, mayhem and an undertaker who I am sure will have more murders to solve and more adventures to relate to readers.
Fran Lewis: just reviews/mj magazine