Curl Up With a Cozy Mystery Featuring Granny Apples
January 22, 2013
I have never really been a fan of mystery books. Sure, an occasional Sherlock Holmes was fine. And if a mystery was contained within a broader story (usually a science fiction one), I could usually get into it. But the contemporary mysteries that a lot of people seem to find enjoyable, I just could never get interested in. However, my resolution this year is to expand my reading horizons. So, I recently picked one up and was pleasantly surprised. I actually loved it!
Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian is a part of her Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series. Admittedly, the fact that there was a bit of a paranormal aspect to the story made me more inclined to sample it. I am easing myself into the mystery genre and away from my sci-fi roots, so I felt I couldn’t go cold turkey. I still needed a little of the out of the ordinary, and there was just enough to make feel comfortable enough to take the plunge. And, I am glad I did.
The series revolves around Emma Whitecastle, the ex-wife of a tabloid TV talk show host. Emma discovers that she has the ability to see ghosts after she meets the spirit of her dead great-great something grandmother, whom she calls Granny Apples. Granny, a pie-baking legend from the eighteenth century, teams up with Emma to solve mysteries involving the dead and the living. Granny keeps an eye out on the spirits in the afterlife for Emma, and Emma introduces Granny to the delights of the modern world (with regretful results at times, as Granny gets into the habit of using outdated expressions from old TV shows).
In Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini, Emma encounters the ghost of a young Hollywood starlet who died under mysterious circumstances on Catalina Island. The ghost seems to be waiting for someone before she moves on to her next life. As Emma attempts to find out whom, she is drawn into a scenario that leads her to question whether one of her beloved former in-laws took part in a murder. The Robert Kennedy assassination in 1968, old-school beach movies, and the pre-AIDS excess of Hollywood are combined with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing right until the end. And Emma’s relationship with the rambunctious and temperamental Granny is a hoot, too.
These books are in a genre that is often referred to as "cozy mysteries." They are not meant to be groundbreaking or serious. They can also usually be read very quickly. This genre of novel is a good choice when you are simply looking for a fun read. This has been a good introduction for me and I think I might sample another of Jaffarian’s books very soon. And maybe some others as well. Perhaps, I could even try one without a paranormal aspect next time.