A Ghostly Murder: Tonya Kappes
Emma Lee Raines has an extra talent or maybe you won’t agree: Some think she is going crazy as the owner and proprietor of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home often seen talking to what appears as herself when in reality it is a deceased person. Now, you might ask just how is this possible. Well! It’s really simple! If someone that is no longer a part of this world happens to feel that he/she was murdered they embark on a simple quest to make themselves visible to you guessed it: Emma Lee Raines hoping that she will find the killer and help them to the other side. But, first she needs to learn the facts, find the evidence and hunt down the person who is responsible for making this person what she called the Betweener. Mamie Sue Preston left a million dollars to her church but why? While completing and officiating over Junior Mullins final preparations and funeral, Emma Lee happens to see the Headstone above Mamie’s grave. Curious and wondering what it means and the reason for the bell she never thought that as a result Mamie would appear. Mamie was the richest woman or person in Sleepy Hollow and some thought to be a complainer about illness. But, Mamie did die under weird circumstances, as you will learn when you read this well written, humorous account of her murder in A Ghostly Murder by Tonya Kappes. Mamie Sue’s ghost is disturbed because when she was buried they forget to put in her teeth and no ghost or anyone wants to look anything but their best so poor Emma has to first find her teeth and Mamie Sue promises her a big payoff if she solves the crime. But, Burns Funeral Home did not bury by Eternal Slumber but Mamie Sue, which is the first problem.
This is just the first of her woes as she has to deal with her Granny Zulu Rae Raines who seems to be the object of someone’s hate and wants to frame her for everything that goes wrong in this small town. In order to be able to contribute to the food choices for the after service you have to sign up with what you are going to make. So, how did Granny and Beulah Paige Belfry wind up making the same thing? How did Beulah’s pie get stolen and wind up getting stolen and having the hot and hunky sheriff who is dating Emma Lee investigates the theft. But, did granny really stoop so low or is someone out to make her look bad? Added in Emma Lee gets blindsided by John Howard. Convinced that Burns is trying to steal her employees she gives him a raise when in reality all he wanted was for her to sponsor a baseball team. This is just the start of the antics as every time she tries to get the info on Mamie Sue, she shows up, causing her to talk out loud, calling her friend Fluggie who is great at research and finding information that is needed and hopefully won’t get in too much trouble or need to be bailed out. But, just when she thought she might have it under control Junior Mullins, who was just buried, turns up claiming that he was murdered too and it had something to do with the money he left to Dixie Dunn. Well, let’s introduce Dixie who owns her own cleaning service and has the monopoly on the senior homes and has a staff of her own. She also works for Beulah full time and when Emma is finally invited in an unusual way to join the Auxillary group of gossipers, the scene at the first meeting and I might add her last is hilarious. Just how she goes about snooping is right out of a Lucy and Ethel episode. Her excuse for using her main bathroom will crack you up. But, greed, power and deceit are just part of the plan of those who are behind the murders. Mamie was rich and someone wants it all but who and why? Pastor Brown was left one million dollars from her estate for the church but never spent a dime why? With the help of Jack Henry Ross her boyfriend and Sheriff who is the only person that knows about her ability to see the dead and why, Emma Lee goes about investigating the murders in a unique and creative way. Getting into the Burns funeral home to get Mamie’s file and of course her teeth is on the agenda. Finding them and placing them in the right place in her grave you have to be there to believe it! Added in we learn more about her relationship with her sister Charolotte Rae who seems critical and discontent. Practical jokes, pranks and someone who does not want the two to cross over and would like Emma Lee silences before she solves the murders that no one looked into until now.
Emma Lee is quite resourceful but she encounters other problems as Jo Ross the sheriff’s mother would like her out of his picture and wants him to take a job in another town as a State Trooper. You see, she thinks Emma Lee is crazy and as Doc Clyde thinks has Funeral Trauma and needs help. Inheriting the funeral home from their retired parents living in Florida, their grandmother Zula Rae Raines not only runs and owns the inn but also makes sure that Eternal Slumber is properly run.
Dixie Dunn has her own moisturizer line and everyone in town wants a jar including Emma Lee. While snooping around her bathroom and pretending to have a pooping problem, Dixie finds her and grants her a jar. Emma Lee realizes that something is wrong and just why does Beulah have what appears to be a heart attack right after she leaves? Things start to take another sour turn as Emma Lee grants the Pastor’s request and comes to church on a Sunday and offers to count the collection since Marie Claire is unavailable. But, someone stole the collection and it is once again blamed on Granny. You won’t believe where it turns up and how Emma Lee fixes this problem.
Mamie Sue Preston has a secret that if exposed would change it all, explain why she was murdered and perhaps catch a killer and much more. Unwilling to tell it all leaves Emma Lee in a precarious position that might just cost her more than she bargained for: HER LIFE! Emma is smart, crafty and when she goes to the Burns Funeral Home and presents herself to Emmet Moss you have to be there to believe what she does. But, does he believe her story? Who else is behind the murders and why?
Emma is resourceful and to learn more about the deaths she goes straight to the senior center and states she wants to hold a Funeral Fair hoping to not only get clients from Happy Times. The scene if priceless and the end result allows her to learn more about what Dixie Dunn is doing, her moisturizing cream and possibly the motive for murder.
The trial unravels as we learn that not only did Mamie leave her money to someone but also the same person profited from Junior’s death. Just how does this all play out and who is the real killer? Just when she thinks the pieces might fit someone decides to take action and tries to silence Fluggie. A Ghostly Murder: Just whose ghost will go to the other side? Will Junior and Mamie haunt Emma Lee forever? Will Jack take the new job? All these questions I cannot answer because both Junior and Mamie made me promise to keep it quiet or they will haunt everyone forever. Hilarious scenes, humor that will bring joyous tears to your eyes and a story that is fast paced and a ghost that will not go to the other side without her teeth. After all she wants to look her best in the after life you never know who she might meet! Once again author Tonya Kappes presents a first rate novel with characters you want more of.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine