A spirit supposedly haunts a run-down house in New Hampshire in this novel.
In Marini’s (Schmuel’s Journey, 2015, etc.) sequel, new couple Sam Miller and Martha Sanborn wonder why her brother, Bart, and his ne’er-do-well childhood friend Auggie Raymond bought the old “Ocean Born Mary House,” a firetrap in Henniker that has long stood vacant. The year is 1975, and the first-time homeowners explain they want to exploit the house’s alleged ghost, Mary Wilson Wallace, by offering tours and selling souvenirs to spirit hunters and academics interested in the occult. In 1720, Mary was born on an oceangoing ship off the coast of New England. Centuries later, people say her apparition inhabits the house. The storyline seesaws from 1975 to emerald-eyed Mary’s shipboard birth, her wedding, her death at age 94 in the Henniker house, and her descendants through three centuries. When a green-eyed woman claiming to be the secret illegitimate daughter of one of those descendants visits Bart, he fears his paranormal enterprise may experience a hiccup. Ghostly activity in the house causes nerves to jangle, but it’s the corpse in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor that produces true fear. Newborn Mary’s discovery on the ship by a pirate called Don Pedro, who allowed her and the others onboard to live as he and his men plundered the vessel, and various other past tales add richness to the story. But some historical accounts fall flat; when the elderly Don Pedro introduces himself to Mary when she is 68, there is little payoff. Italicizing is inconsistent—italics are used for internal monologues, emphasis, signage, correspondence, and event summaries. References to TV Detective Joe Friday working a case and the “aw-shucks grin” of actor Gary Cooper seem corny even in a book set in the mid-’70s, and the recap of the first installment of the series is clunky. But ghostly elements add shivers, and the reason for the murder provides a welcome twist. Another positive element: the realistic pains and promise of Martha and Sam’s new relationship.
A winning trifecta for cozy enthusiasts: a ghost story, a murder mystery, and a fresh romance.