I froze with my hand on a cream-colored Armani blouse. In that moment, it all came flooding back to me. When Charlotte Meadows had been murdered several weeks ago, I’d seen her picture in the paper. With a hollow feeling, I realized the woman in the picture was the same one standing next to me.
Title: If You’ve Got It, Haunt It
Author: Rose Pressey
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp, December 02, 2014
Format/Source: eBook provided from publisher via Netgalley*
Series: Haunted Vintage
Cookie Chanel hits a local estate sale hoping to score some stylish stock for her vintage clothing boutique, It’s Vintage Y’All, but leaves with an unexpected item – the estate’s owner, Charlotte Meadows, in all of her ghostly glory. Charlotte’s been murdered and, since Cookie is the only person that can see her, she insists on Cookie’s help in catching her killer. Cookie’s not interested; that is, not until Charlotte proves she can be just as pushy in death as she was in life.
With a struggling boutique to manage, Cookie doesn’t have time to solve a murder. She reluctantly agrees to help Charlotte, if only to get rid of her. Then things get really strange: Creepy men in dark suits start shadowing her, the hunky new town detective keeps stopping by her store to ask questions, and a cat warns her-via Ouija board-that she’s in danger. The only way to get her life back to normal is to find justice for Charlotte, but someone is determined to do whatever it takes to stop her. And the closer Cookie gets to the truth, the more determined the killer is to put Cookie out of business…for good.
YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
- Sugar Creek’s Historic Downtown – With its old brick buildings, boutiques and cafes, and cozy elements like lampposts and horse-drawn carriages, the historic downtown area sounds charming. I can imagine spending an afternoon strolling down Main Street, browsing through the shops, and stopping to chat with a neighbor (or ten) before heading over to Glorious Grits for a bite to eat.
- The Vintage Clothes – If you go gaga for retro fashion, Cookie has you covered. Samples from Cookie’s wardrobe include: a full-circle dress with pearl buttons and an ecru check pattern à la the ’50s, a polka dot blouse from the ’40s with a nipped waist and a bow adorning the collar, and a chic ’70s sleeveless wrap dress with pockets on each hip and long sashes that tie at the waist. Cookie’s closet is filled to the brim with items from every era, and Pressey’s descriptions bring each piece of clothing to life.
- Wind Song, The Psychic Cat – She sees ghosts and nonchalantly uses a Ouija board to communicate with people.Where she came from and how she obtained her supernatural abilities is a mystery; why Cookie decides to take in the perceptive feline is not. Who wouldn’t want a cat that has no issue with cat carriers and warns its owner if trouble is lurking nearby?
- The Buick – Cookie’s car is a red 1948 Buick convertible. Shiny chrome, smooth curves, soft tan leather interior…it sounds sooo dreamy. And I love Cookie’s decision to update the stereo system with modern speakers and a satellite radio to play tunes from the ’40s and ’50s.
YOU MIGHT NOT ENJOY:
- The Lack of Male Characters – With the exception of Detective Valentine, there are not many male characters in the novel. Even the cat is female. Only one other male gets any significant page time, and he’s a jerk. Beyond that, men get a few lines of dialogue or stalk around in the background. The novel suffers slightly from gender imbalance.
- The Characters That Didn’t Fit Into The Story – Certain parts of the narrative were stalled by characters that either weren’t really necessary to a scene or were built up and then never seen again. Example #1: Cookie’s parents, who breeze in for a few pages to provide stereotypical parental interactions, then disappear for the rest of the novel. I’m not sure why it was necessary to include a physical appearance from them at all; Cookie’s backstory held up fine without needing to bring in the parents to reinforce it. Or why, if Pressey was going to include them, she would make them so one-dimensional. Example #2: Annette Hayes, introduced at the Spring Fling committee meeting. In a few paragraphs, we get a lot of detailed information about Annette and her relationship with Cookie, including that Cookie considers her a mother figure and plans to speak with her further after the meeting to discuss the Charlotte problem. Because of this, I kept waiting for her to pop up again somewhere, but she never did. Example #3: A man runs into Cookie’s store and excitedly asks if that’s her 1948 Buick outside, and if he can look under the hood. It’s a setup so Cookie can brag about her car to the reader, but it doesn’t feel organic and the man disappears just as quickly as he arrived. At a different point, Cookie talks about how she doesn’t need a huge sign above her store because the Buick is the perfect advertising tool, then brags about her car; this scene is more natural, flows better than the awkwardly staged one, and doesn’t require bringing in a toss-away character to do so.
- The Unanswered Questions – The novel doesn’t tie things up neatly at the end. I know some questions are left open-ended because they will be answered as the series progresses. But some of the red herrings and the killer’s decisions are either vaguely explained or left unexplained, making the mystery feel incomplete.
Yes, if you enjoy cozies with lots of humor and a light touch of the supernatural. I do feel like the plot began to unravel at the end and the solution to the crime was underwhelming. Overall, the mystery didn’t feel cohesive to me. It was a fun read, though, and I’m willing to give the next in the series a shot, so I would recommend it despite the flaws.
This is the first in Pressey’s new Haunted Vintage series. The next novel in this series, All Dressed Up And No Place To Haunt, will be available in June 2015.
* I received a free copy of this eBook from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.