A young widow stumbles on a town filled with psychic energy that encourages her to investigate an accidental death that may have been a murder.
Following her husband Sam’s death after a long illness and the loss of her job as a teacher, Bella Jordan, out of money and options on where to live, is forced to make the trek from New York to Chicago to start a new life with her mother-in-law. That’s not what Bella wants, but she needs to have some way to take care of Max, her young son. Not very far along the way to Chicago, Bella and Max rescue a cat who seems determined to meet its end on the road. Unable to stop herself from trying to deliver the pet to its owner, Bella detours into the little town of Lily Dale. Though she finds the guesthouse the owner ran, she’s too late to meet Leona, who was recently found drowned in spite of her lifelong fear of water. The town’s residents press Bella into service to take Leona’s place, at least for the summer. After all, Lily Dale is a tourist destination, with folks coming from all over the country to enjoy the spirits. That’s the spirits of those who have died, not the ones that come in bottles, though after a few interactions with the kooky residents, Bella thinks it could be both. Even though she’s a skeptic, Bella has some small hope that being surrounded by the spirit world could put her in touch with Sam. Instead, it leads her into wondering whether Leona’s death was an accident or whether there’s something more afoot.
Though this new series from Staub (Blood Red, 2015, etc.) is being compared to Mary Higgins Clark, the story, for better or worse, is a good deal sweeter and gentler than Clark. No spirits were bruised in the writing of this tale.