Friday, February 24, 2012

Flip That Haunted House by Rose Pressey

Alabama Hargrove has a new, sure-fire, money-making scheme up her sleeve: house flipper. So what if she knows zilch about renovating homes--how hard can it be?

Tougher than she thought when she discovers ghosts inhabiting the run-down mansion and the corpse of the previous owner. Oh yeah, and now the local sheriff thinks Alabama is the killer.

Holy house rehab, what's next? Reed O'Hara, the sexy know-it-all next door neighbor that's what. Alabama is hell-bent on proving she can handle the fixer-upper. Plus, unravel the mystery and find the killer. But if she's not careful, she may end up in the house forever…

Where to Buy

This book starts off with an interesting premise, namely, a gal buying an old haunted house that she intends to flip as one of her latest money-making schemes. Add in a hunky next-door neighbor that practically has her fanning herself in true Southern Belle fashion after just one look, and those two things alone could have made for a cute and interesting story. A short ways into it, however, Alabama becomes an almost-witness to a murder, and the whole thing becomes more of a murder mystery from then on. With this addition, the whole thing becomes slightly confused with various happenings related to the murder and the stalker that Alabama seems to have acquired interspersed with bits about the house and her odd relationship, if you can call it that, with Reed (the hunky next-door neighbor).

The murder mystery storyline itself is handled fairly well I think, with plenty of clues strewn about for the reader (and Alabama) to sort through in trying to figure out whodunnit. While I had my suspicions about the identity of the murderer fairly early on, I never was very sure as there was no conclusive evidence in any direction, so the final reveal still came as a bit of a surprise. The reveal scene, while weighed down with a bit of superfluous wackiness, was done well too, with the whole thing playing out just like the ending of a (somewhat cheesy) TV murder mystery show in a way that can't help but have you shaking your head at least a little bit with amusement.

I was disappointed that the scenes having to do with the haunted house ended up seeming almost like more of an aside to the murder mystery plot since the title seemed to indicate that the house and its story, along with Alabama's adventures in trying to fix it up to flip it, would be the focal point of the book, or at least one of the main focal points. Instead, Alabama hardly seems to spend very much time there at all. We do eventually learn who the ghost is, and why he's there, but then that whole story comes to a relatively abrupt conclusion in the space of a few pages without there ever having been a whole lot of substance to it aside from a few scenes where that plot was advanced.

Many of the relationships that Alabama has with others in the book don't seem to make a lot of sense, starting with her relationship with Reed. Despite the fact that she's undeniably attracted to him from first sight, she also fairly inexplicably takes a fairly instant and unreasonable dislike to him. It's hinted that it's not really anything personal against Reed necessarily, more just a byproduct of her attitude toward men in general after a bad relationship in the past with someone. The ex-boyfriend is mentioned a few times throughout the book in an unfavorable manner, but we never get the story of what happened there, so we're left rather bewildered as to what happened that's influencing her reactions to Reed so much. Another relationship that was a bit bewildering, to me at least, was the way she apparently became bosom buddies with Suzie, the owner of a new boutique, after only one conversation with the woman, during which the Suzie was friendly, but also mostly just businesslike and somewhat standoffish. Alabama buys a few candles from her, compliments her on the store, getting a warm response, then suddenly the next day the two are confidantes and Alabama's talking (to the reader) about Suzie as being the Gossip Queen of the town in a manner that's more like she'd know the woman and her reputation all her life instead of having just met her. She also becomes fairly instant friends with Carolyn, who she meets at Suzie's store, and while there isn't much explanation given as to why that happens, it does seem fairly natural at least. As Alabama herself says later on in the book, sometimes you just click with a person right away and become good friends after only a brief acquaintance.

The final main negative point to this book is that on my copy of the Kindle edition at least, there were jarring formatting issues throughout. Granted, this is likely just a byproduct of conversion to the Kindle format from whatever format the ebook was in originally, but it could certainly have benefitted from someone spending a bit of time to clean up the formatting afterwards (if such is even possible with the Kindle format - I'm not sure). There were also several textual errors that I noticed throughout the work, from typos, poor word choice, omitted words and phrases, or the wrong form of a word being used (singular instead of plural form, or vice versa, for example). This, combined with the formatting issues, left the impression with me that the work could have benefitted from more polishing work. Or at least a bit more careful proofreading.

Negative points aside, the book had its charm and I will likely check out other works by this author. For those looking for a quirky, relatively light read, this book might suit you, particularly if you enjoy eccentric characters (this book has plenty of them), a mystery with a bit of slightly-comedic edge of the seat suspense, a dash of the paranormal, and a sprinkling of sexual/romantic tension thrown in for good measure

No comments:

Post a Comment