Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Life with a Ghost with Fire Chief Stella Griffin & Review

Life with a Ghost with Fire Chief Stella Griffin
By J. J. Cook

Maybe this should have been titled ‘Life with A Hardheaded, Stubborn Ghost’ Eric Gamlyn was a paragon while he was alive, forty years ago. Stories about him – true and not so true – ring through the mountains that surround Sweet Pepper, Tennessee.

First of all, let’s look at some of those myths:
* He built the old firehouse by himself while he was building his log cabin on the mountain close to it. I think this one is true. Maybe not totally by himself, but it was his idea and he did most of the work.

* He changed the course of the Little Pigeon River when it flooded. Not true. Come on! He’s big, but he’s not Paul Bunyan!

* He rescued many people from fires. Very true. The Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade he began was his life’s work. He died trying to protect it.

As far as Eric’s death is concerned, I’m working on it. Everyone thought he died a hero in the big silo fire. Instead, he was shot in the head and stuffed into the wall of the old firehouse. No one knew the truth until the firehouse burned down, and we found his bones and badge. Eric is mad at me, like it was my fault he didn’t die the way he thought he died! There seems to be some memory lapse for him, so he can’t remember exactly what happened. He’s not much help as I’m trying to piece it all together. And he’s got an attitude about it too! I know it’s important to him to find out the truth – he just doesn’t want to admit it. That’s fine. I can take care of it for him. Will that mean he just disappears like ghosts do in the movies sometimes when everyone figures out what happened – like The Canterbury Ghost? I hope not. He’s my best friend, despite being stubborn and hardheaded. He’s also the only hope we ever have of winning the blue ribbon in the Sweet Pepper Festival. I’m not the kind of cook that wins awards! But I am the person who won’t rest until I’ve brought Eric’s killer to justice. I can promise you that.


Playing with Fire by J.J. Cook
The second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery

Come back to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee with Playing with Fire, by J.J. Cook. There’s a lot going on in this, the second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery. Everyone is wondering when Stella is going to leave Tennessee and return to Chicago, including Stella. Now that it’s known that Eric was indeed murdered, Stella feels she should stay to attempt to figure out what actually happened, shouldn’t she? She’s also growing attached to the town…and her ghost is growing attached to her. To add to the quagmire her parents have come to town, bringing along her philandering ex-boyfriend. When another murder occurs it seems it must be related to the former fire chief’s murder. Is it?

I love this series and I was just as pleased with this book as I was with its predecessor. I love the fact that Eric can actually cook, actually physically prepare food and that he does so when stressed. I also appreciate the fact that he’s developing feelings for Stella and I’m wondering if she will begin to reciprocate. And what can happen if she does. I know that there can be ghostly happily ever afters in romance novels…but this is a mystery. Still, I’m quite enjoying the romantic aspect…especially Eric’s reaction to Doug! But never fear, to those of you who prefer not to get sidetracked by romance and the paranormal in your mysteries there is a good solid mystery story here. More than one actually.

I was more than pleased to be back in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee and highly recommend this book. The author deftly weaves mysteries, both new and old, with a glimpse of romance, a touch of the paranormal, and a pleasant dose of humor.

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