** spoiler alert **
This book is almost more romance than it is mystery but even so (I’m not a romance fan), I really enjoyed it. Maybe because it’s because I am a taphophile myself and this book is about taphophiles, lovers of cemeteries. The lead character is Amelia Gray, the Graveyard Queen. She uses her archeology degree in part for her career as a graveyard restorer (something else I’ve participated in over the years) and owner of a blog for taphophiles. Amelia, like her father who was a graveyard groundskeeper, can see ghosts. No one but her father knows this and he has many rules about this to keep her safe. One of the biggest is to never engage the ghosts. In this story they aren’t just residual haunts, harmless. They’re energy vampires that latch on and will never let you go.
Amelia has always followed these rules until a fresh body is found in the cemetery she is restoring for Emerson college. She is consulted by detective John Devlin who is a dark brooding devastatingly handsome man and he just so happens to be haunted by two ghosts, a little girl and a Gullah woman.
As more and more bodies turn up, Amelia is drawn deeper into the crime and closer to Devlin, forgetting her father’s rules. Devlin is a skeptic but he wasn’t always. He has many secrets, Amelia learns. These crimes are all about secrets which Emerson, college to Charleston’s rich and deeply historied elite. Almost everyone in the story could be the killer, including Devlin.
Overall, it would be a hard mystery to solve on your own since pretty much everyone makes a good suspect but I wasn’t too unhappy with how it turned out. Amelia is likable when she’s not acting like a romance heroine (okay I am biased here, I admit it). One of the things I dislike about romance is the oft times heavy handedness with how gorgeous someone is and how much they want them and what body parts tingle and the heavy repetition of these things. This book does suffer from that but I was able to look past that to enjoy it for what it was. It’s richly flavored with Southern Gothic charm and there are many unresolved threads (this is book one in a series). I would get another one.