In this episode, apprentice detective Wilma Tenderfoot and her beagle, Pickle, meet a phony phantom and a genuine ghost, and Wilma moves a step further in her quest to solve the mysteries of her own origin.
Book three lives up to the promise of earlier series titles (The Case of the Frozen Hearts, 2011, etc.) with an appropriately convoluted plot, exaggerated characterizations, plenty of playful language and a ridiculous romance. The diminutive but dastardly Barbu D’Anvers reappears, bent on collecting a gambling debt, marrying swooning Belinda Blackheart and bumping off her parents so that he can inherit the family’s crumbling estate. Another pair of conspirators constructs an elaborate scheme to find treasure hidden at Blackheart Hoo and scare the owners out of hunting for it themselves. Kennedy reminds readers about the main characters and isolated setting on Cooper’s Island through an elaborate side exploration of the divided community’s curious history and traditions including the annual Brackle Day celebration. Villain D’Anvers never speaks plainly: He hisses, pants, screams and cackles. Wilma’s dog, Pickle, is embarrassingly outfitted in one outlandish getup after another; Inspector Lemone can’t stop thinking about food; and Detective Goodman solemnly smokes his rosemary pipe, before he identifies the perpetrators and reveals all. No real fatalities occur.
Ghost story, detective adventure and good fun—but readers are advised to begin this entertaining series with volume one. (Humorous mystery. 8-12)