A young newspaper reporter of high social standing investigates low-stakes crimes with the help of a collegial ghost.
Poppy Thornton is an unusual girl for her place, Philadelphia, and time, the Roaring ’20s. Not only does she insist on having her own job, but just imagine: she even buys herself a motor vehicle to get there! Though she’s only 25, Poppy’s had life experiences that make her feel older, the latest of which is nearly being killed by her cousin Eustace, better known as Stacy, in connection with a fraudulent scheme (Haunting Investigation, 2015). Though Poppy’s Aunt Jo, Stacy’s mother, insists that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, Poppy’s overjoyed when her other aunt, Esther, invites her to move into her house and out of Aunt Jo’s. Aunt Esther is a progressive woman not afraid to travel even though she's unmarried, and Poppy seems to be following in her footsteps. Take Poppy’s latest assignment as a reporter for the Clarion: she must find the whereabouts of the adult son of the Pearses, one of the town’s wealthy families. Gameal Pearse, better known by his initials, GAD, has disappeared during his travels. Could he be dead, or, worse still, has he eloped with a woman not to his mother’s liking? Poppy’s meandering investigation pairs her with local inspector J.B. Loring, even though he’s distinctly below her class. Her truest ally, Chesterton Holte, takes a less corporeal form and has the advantage of being able to consult the spirit world for backup.
Lacking both suspense and direction, Yarbro’s story will mostly interest readers enamored of her characters’ period quirks, which have been done better elsewhere.