Author: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Series: A Chesterton Holte, Gentleman Haunt Mystery
Publication: Smoke & Shadow Books (November 1, 2016)
Description: Philadelphia, 1924
It's been three months since crime reporter Poppy Thornton was left to die in an abandoned warehouse by her cousin Stacy, chief suspect in a high society murder. Rescued by the quick thinking of Chesterton Holte-her \"gentleman haunt\"-and Police Inspector J.B. Loring, Poppy is determined to get the real story and see justice done. But Stacy has fled Philadelphia with the widow of the man he is accused of murdering, and now an international manhunt is on for the suspected conspirators.
As that search continues, Poppy, Holte, and Loring have a new mystery: the disappearance of GAD Pearce, 18 year-old heir to the Pearce fortune, who has vanished while travelling through Eastern Europe. The suspects range from the young man's jealous siblings to a mysterious cult of Armenian refugees. Once again Holte uses his ghostly powers to uncover answers and pass on what he learns to Poppy- who must then alert Loring without revealing her otherworldly source.
Is GAD still alive? Can Poppy keep her job despite social convention, the disdain of her male colleagues, and the dangerous attraction she feels to Loring? Will the authorities succeed in tracking Stacy down? What's really going on behind the closed doors of the politicians and bankers who run the city and the state? And as the search for truth takes Poppy and Holte deeper into a forest of dark secrets and official corruption, who will die next?
My Thoughts: LIVING SPECTRES is clearly the middle book in a trilogy since it ends quite abruptly. In this episode, Poppy has moved to her Aunt Esther's house since her Aunt Jo refuses to believe that her son Stacy attempted to murder Poppy. Aunt Esther is a world traveler who undertakes trips under the sponsorship of the National Geographic Society.
Poppy is still busy at the newspaper working on the counterfeit antiques case that her cousin is involved in. She also becomes involved in a new problem when a family friend, eighteen-year-old GAD Pearse, has disappeared in Europe. Mr. Pearse doesn't want the incident publicized for fear of the number of ransom demands he will receive. He has asked the police in the person of Inspector Loring to investigate discreetly.
Chesterton Holte is also busy with both cases as he searches the world of ghosts for information about Stacy and about GAD. Some of the most interesting scenes in the book were those when Holte was in the world of ghosts looking for principals in his cases and seeing large number of other ghosts who died of various causes. Some of the newest died in a recent hurricane the swept through the Caribbean and up the East Coast. Holte discovers a lot of information leaving Poppy to find a way to share it with Loring without admitting that her source is a ghost.
GAD's plot thread spent a lot of time discussing the plight of Armenian refugees who were victims of the Ottoman Empire and are now searching for a home in Europe. The title reflects what those refugees were called and what their lives were like as they wandered Europe looking for a new home.
One strong suit of this series is the plentiful historical detail that the author includes. Sometimes there was a bit too much detail. For example, every time Poppy or her Aunt Esther changed clothes we learned what they were wearing from head to toe. Some of the historical detail I enjoyed the most was information about the restrictions women, even wealthy women, faced. Aunt Esther's decision not to marry a long-time suitor was primarily because she would lose all financial autonomy.
Fans of mysteries set in the 1920s will enjoy this series.
Holte made a kind of sound that would have been a sarcastic laugh if he had been alive. "That's quite a feat, in its own way, turning attempted murder into a bit of scampery."I got this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.