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by Hope McIntyre
Mysterious Press, January 2007
368 pages
ISBN: 0892960140

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's not woo woo! The ghost in the title of Hope McIntyre's novel, HOW TO MARRY A GHOST, is Lee Bartholomew a 39-year-old British writer who is developing a reputation for ghost-writing books for celebrities.

Leaving a floundering nine-year relationship behind her, Lee flies off to the Hamptons where her mother is planning a beachside commitment ceremony with her billionaire boyfriend, and where she also takes the opportunity to meet Shotgun Marriott.

Shotgun is a British rock star now living a reclusive life just down the road from Lee's mother, and ghost-writing his autobiography would be a real coup, because there is a mysterious death in his past that should ensure a lot of interest in the book.

Within hours of the ceremony, however, Lee witnesses a body being recovered from the beach, and it turns out to be the Shotgun's son Sean, wearing a wedding dress. A day later and another death occurs in the nearby woods, and this time the victim is Bettina Pleshette, the other ghost-writer competing with Lee to write Shotgun's story.

Surprisingly Shotgun decides to go ahead with the book project and agrees he will confess all to Lee about the secrets in his past. Meanwhile Lee settles into a beach cabin, and gets to know her new 'stepbrothers' and some of the local characters, many of whom have shady or quirky sides to their characters.

It becomes clear that nothing can settle down until the murders are solved, but Lee finds the information she uncovers, both in the USA and back home in the Notting Hill area of London, to be contradictory and possibly dangerous.

HOW TO MARRY A GHOST is an entertaining mix of mystery with a modern relationship-based novel. It's not so much that mystery that kept me turning the pages, as seeing how the various characters inter-related and following their personal stories. Lee doesn't investigate the crimes so much as research her subject and those around him, but ultimately this brings everything to a head.

I found Lee to be an interesting character, struggling with commitment issues and the cold nature of her mother. The novel was at times light, and at others mildly disturbing and creepy, but always engaging. The resolution of the murders was original and surprising, and I even got emotional about the romantic conclusion. HOW TO MARRY A GHOST is an accomplished piece of writing and a good read.

Reviewed by Bridget Bolton, January 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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