Past actions and futuristic inventions haunt people in this sequel.
Having helped paranormal detective R.F. Jackaby on several cases, Abigail Rook attempts to solve the murder of Jenny Cavanaugh, former resident and current ghost of 926 Augur Ln. Abigail and Jenny’s experiments recall details of her decade-old death and her missing fiance, but they also risk hurting host and ghost. Reluctantly, Jackaby relies on the young women’s new relationship to solve the disappearances and deaths of scientists (and small animals) plaguing New Fiddleham. While fighting vividly drawn villains, the trio also uncovers a vast conspiracy bankrolled by not-so-benevolent “benefactors.” Still adjusting to her new home and the sidelong existence of the supernatural, the white Englishwoman provides stability while Jackaby and Jenny confront their own unquiet spirits as they traverse the 19th-century urban-fantasy, slightly steampunk New England city and other realms. Lacking Jackaby’s Seer powers and the shape-shifting skills of her beau, Charlie Cane, Abigail proves self-sacrificing but sensible, wide-eyed but wry. The frenetic pace and whimsy of earlier installments give way to slower personal journeys and complex machinations, yet humorous moments, strong settings, and distinctive, diverse characters buoy the dark story. No easily untangled mystery, this Gordian knot suggests that the battle is won but the war has just begun.
A somber turn for the supernatural sleuth and levelheaded assistant but still energetic and entertainingly offbeat. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)