Living Spectres (Chesterton Holte, Gentleman Haunt)
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Edited by Patrick J. LoBrutto
Cover Artist: Design: Patricia Saxton
Review by Gayle Surrette
Smoke & Shadow Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781943052363
Date: 11 November 2016
This is a difficult review to write because there's a lot going on and most of it is related to the events in the first book of this series, Haunting Investigation . In fact, Living Spectres is more of a continuation of the first book with a few new crimes and mysterious happenings added in. Since many of the threads begun in Living Spectres are not wrapped up by the end, I assume that they will be dealt with in the next book in the series -- which is not necessarily a bad thing.
In Living Spectres, Poppea "Poppy" Thornton is moving out of her Aunt Josephine "Jo" Dritchner's house and into her Aunt Esther Thornton's home. Josephine believes that her son, Stacy, is just misunderstood and his attempt to kill Poppy was just a childish prank and he had no part in the murder and mayhem that made up the plot of Haunting Investigations. Poppy knows moving in with her aunt Esther will be different -- this aunt is far more adventurous and less conventional than Aunt Jo.
Poppy and her relations are part of Philadelphia's upper crust. Poppy has bucked convention and is now a crime reporter for the Clarion, one of the local newspapers. Her connections within the upper classes of society led to her covering the central crime in Haunting Investigations since that level of society would and often did close ranks when anything unsavory happened to one of their own. That case brought Poppy in contact with Inspector Loring, and her assistance helped lead to a number of clues that were invaluable to the case, leading the two to developed a respect for each other such that they've continued to keep in touch and share information.
In Living Spectres, officials are trying to extradite Miles Overstreet from Canada where he's being held. Stacy is missing, potentially in South America somewhere. Poppy would just like the case solved.
Additionally it seems that GAD Pearse, the son of one of Aunt Jo's neighbors is missing. GAD never returned from Europe. The family is distraught and wants things handled very quietly in case he's been kidnapped, even though there has been no ransom request.
Poppy is doing her best to maintain her professionalism at work, and yet to not be undermined so that she can continue to work on interesting news stories. Loring still needs her assistance in gaining information for these high society cases. He's also suspecting that Poppy has some line of information other than what is normal. He's right about that as she has a ghost willing to help her gain information from observing the living and talking to those who have died -- never the less it still takes a lot of work to put the clues together in a coherent manner.
The time period (between WWI and WWII) makes the books interesting since the role of women is in flux. The writing as you'd expect from Yarbro is solid, engaging, and with great characters, witty dialogue, and multiple plot threads that keep the pages turning. Some of the hanging issues from the first book come closer to be solved as more avenues of investigation are uncovered. I'm so looking forward to more stories in this series. I'd advise new readers of this series to start with Haunting Investigations; however, there is enough background slipped into this book to allow you to follow along even if you haven't read the first book.