Sunday, April 18, 2021

Review: Phantoms & Felonies by Lucy Ness

by Lucy Ness
Release Date: April 6th 2021
2021 Berkley
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1984806796
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

When a local theater troupe puts on a new play at the club, manager Avery Morgan is excited. This is just the sort of event that's destined to bring in potential new members. Okay, millionaire banker Bob Hanover has more bucks than talent and has used his position to grab the lead role, but that seems like a small price to pay...until Bob is found dead backstage.

Bob rubbed many people the wrong way, but would anyone want him dead? The short answer to that is: Who wouldn't want him dead? His long-suffereing wife had to put up with years of womanizing. The show's playwright has been tricked out of his one great idea by Bob, who claimed it as his own work. And Bob bankrupted one of the town's small businessmen. The choices are many and the time to find the killer is running short.
My Thoughts
Phantoms & Felonies is the second book in the series, and while I didn't read the first book, I definitely had no problem understanding the relationships between the characters and what was happening.  In fact, this book was a lot of fun; so much so that I will be picking up the first book to find out how some of the characters originally met.  
The title of the series is what initially drew me into reading this book, and then I discovered there was a ghost involved as well.  Well, consider me hooked.  I am not acctually giving away anything by mentioning the ghost as it's in the book's description, but combine mansion and ghost...yup, hooked.  
Avery decides to throw a murder/mystery evening to raise money for the mansion she is running as well as the women's club.  Things go awry right from the beginning as the lead actors in the play don't seem to get along; in fact, they have this tendency to get on the wrong side of anyone with whom they come in contact.  I love how Avery tries to deal with the situation as manager, but it's definitely a tough position in which to be.  
Avery was a fun character though.  I loved how she just took everything in stride, trying not give away the fact that she could see the ghost who haunts the mansion from her Aunt Rosemary who has this supernatural gift to feel spirits.  The relationship with her aunt was a lot of fun as her aunt was quite quirky, and tried very hard to push Avery and her police officer 'friend' together. My favourite character was the ghost 'Clemmie'.  I liked how Rosemary tried to discover more about her final resting place and more information about her as it was a nice secondary story line; I have grown very curious about Clemmie and what actually happened to her and I feel like this will be material for a future book. 
The actual mystery was interesting, and I enjoyed following Avery as she searched for clues to help solve the mystery.  She didn't go out of her way to involve herself in police work or to avoid mentioning important information to the police, something I liked.  She was also very careful when asking questions; it drives me crazy when amateur sleuths pay no attention to their personal safety, but just go barging into situations without a thought.  Avery was not like this as she was careful and shrewd, and she knew when to back off and involve the police.  The way she took advantage of situations to ask questions was quite cleverly done. 
Phantoms & Felonies was a fun read and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I thought the characters were intriguing and diverse, and took a particular liking to Clemmie and Aunt Rosemary.  Clemmie's flapper-style ghost is original and I love the witty dialogue that happens whenever she shows up.  The plot was engaging, and while I did have the suspect in the back of my mind, the author used quite a few clever twists and turns to try and get me to change my mind.  I am looking forward to the next book in this series.