Ghost à la Road
When I sat down to write the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, I wanted to make sure it was very different from my already established Odelia Grey mystery series. This wasn’t just to avoid reader confusion, but to keep the premises and characters straight in my mind. After all, I write two novels a year, one in each series, one right after the other. It would be so easy for them to lose their individual identities in the process.
I decided to write the Granny Apples books in third person since the Odelia Grey books are written in first person. I made the main protagonists, Odelia Grey and Emma Whitecastle, very different. Odelia is sassy and flawed, married, short, plus size and will brake for Ben and Jerry’s or a good burger. Emma, on the other hand, is tall, slender, wealthy, divorced with a grown child, and a vegetarian. The only similarity is that they are both middle-aged and their series are both humorous.
Another difference is that Odelia remains mostly in Southern California, while Emma and her sidekick, the ghost of Granny Apples, hit the road fairly often.
In Ghost à la Mode, the first book in the Ghost of Granny Apples series, I took Emma and friends to Julian, California, where Granny once lived. The second book, Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini, takes place on Catalina Island in California. All fun places within close proximity of my Los Angeles home. A weekend here and there and the research was complete.
When it came time to develop the story for Gem of a Ghost, the third book in the series, I knew it would be about a haunted gem and had planned for it to be based in Southern California. Then a funny thing happened. I was looking at a map, plotting my drive from Oakmont, Pennsylvania, to my family in Massachusetts where I was going to spend a week after a couple of big book events. I knew the drive would require an overnight and since I’d never been in that area I wanted to plan the stop somewhere nice and interesting. I had pretty much picked my stopping point when my eyes settled on a town called “Jim Thorpe.”
Whoa! Wait a darn minute! Who in the world names a town Jim Thorpe? And, knowing that Thorpe was originally from Oklahoma, why is this place in Pennsylvania? After a bit of internet research, I knew I HAD to change my course to visit this town, and not because it was named after a famous Olympic athlete.
Turns out Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, was originally named Mauch Chunk and was one of the sites of the infamous Molly McGuire trials and executions in the late 1870s. More importantly, it had a haunted prison where the executions took place.
A haunted prison that was now a museum. Sign me (and Granny) up!
I arrived in Jim Thorpe just before Memorial weekend when the museum officially opened for the summer season, but had written to the owner prior to my arrival and arranged for a private tour of the prison. It was great! And I knew that after walking around the town and seeing the prison that Gem of a Ghost had to be set there, at least partially. And it worked beautifully!
For the 4th book in the series, I took Granny on another road trip. This time to Las Vegas. Hey, research is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it! I had to make a couple of trips to Vegas to check out places, hotels, surrounding geography, etc. The first time the story sort of presented itself, but it wasn’t until my second trip when I took a tour to the Grand Canyon and spent hours in a small tour van going through the desert that I got inspired for the rest of the story. Between those trips and watching hours of video on the history of Las Vegas, Ghost of a Gamble came alive and found its way to the page.
Ghost of a Gamble will also be finding its way into readers hands on April 1st!
So what’s next for Granny?
For book five I’m sticking closer to home. It takes place in and around Los Angeles but there will be plenty of historical information. The working title is Ghost in the Guacamole.
After that book, I’m considering another trip east for Emma and Granny, another historical look at Los Angeles, and possibly an adventure in Hawaii, but who knows. Right now those are just possibilities and I haven’t bought any plane tickets yet.
Ghost of a Gamble (Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery - Book 4) by Sue Ann Jeffarian
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Sue Ann Jaffarian on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Ghost of Granny Apples
1. Ghost a la Mode
2. Ghost in a Polka Dot Bikini
3. Gem of a Ghost
4. Ghost of a Gamble
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from, Ghost of a Gamble, courtesy of the author's website.
Spiritual medium Emma Whitecastle knows a good ghost when she feels one—like her own sweet Granny Apples, long gone but still as famous for her apple pies as she is for helping her great-great-great-granddaughter get to the core of the most baffling mysteries...
When Emma gets word of a sticky spirit problem in Las Vegas, she and the ghost of Granny Apples hit the road for Sin City. The spooked one is Dolly, a former showgirl. Dolly is haunted by Lenny, a dead Vegas hood worried about an aging mobster named Nemo coming after the leggy old bombshell. Dolly’s playing dumb, but Emma’s making a blind bet that she knows more about Nemo than she admits.
When Nemo is found dead, Dolly goes missing—and lands herself on a short list of suspects. Emma, Granny, and their pals comb Las Vegas to find her, only to discover the truth behind a casino heist gone bad, a hidden stash of stolen loot, and a missing wise guy who’s not letting death come between him and setting things straight. And Emma and Granny Apples aren’t about to fold until they save Dolly’s neck and put her past to rest.
Sue Ann Jaffarian brings readers the fourth book in her Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, Ghost of a Gamble. Emma and Granny are off on another road trip in this book, this time to Sin City, Vegas will never be the same. This humorous mystery series featuring paranormal elements will have readers sitting on the edge of their collective seats. Jaffarian has an over the top writing style that is appealing and full of surprises. Readers never know what is going to happen next in a Granny Apples mystery and Ghost of a Gamble is no different. A great addition to the series.
What I liked:
Sue Ann Jaffarian is one of those writers that can give you a totally unbelievable idea and make you believe every word of it. Her stories are written with a flamboyant style that draws the reader in and has them giggling under their breath in no time. Jaffarian's use of humor is excellent and almost as entertaining as the mystery itself... almost!
Emma is a great cozy heroine. She is a medium and is used to dealing with spirits and their issues. She has a humorous outlook on life that is contagious and she knows how to solve a mystery. I love the fact that her sidekick is the ghost of her great great great grandmother. It adds a great paranormal aspect to this mystery series that will draw in a whole different audience. Emma is a cross between The Ghost Whisperer and the Long Island Medium, serious at times and hilarious at others. A very versatile character.
I loved the Los Vegas setting for this one. I have enjoyed the fact that the Granny Apples mysteries tend to take place in different areas and are not limited by a stagnant setting. Jaffarian does a fantastic job using the history of Vegas to add to the details of this mystery. It's obvious that she did her homework and the city really comes to life for the reader. I liked the whole mobster idea and how it played into the outcome of the mystery as well.
Granny Apples once again steals the show in this mystery though. I love her character and how each time Emma finds herself in the middle of another mystery, it somehow involves Granny. I like the fact that Granny can move around and travel to different places, which gives each mystery more versatility. But the humor and comic relief that Granny adds to every book is the best part of all. I think Jaffarian has done a great job with this series and I look forward to seeing where Granny and Emma turn up next.
What I didn't like:
I thought this one was a fun romp in Las Vegas that happened to center around a murder. The mystery itself was a little long in coming to a head, but once readers get past that, it is a great read, that is original and full of surprises.
This is a great series with a lot of humor and it always features a great mystery that makes the reader do a little thinking to figure it out. I love the paranormal aspects of the book, featuring Granny Apples and the charismatic lead character, Emma.
Ghost of a Gamble will be available to readers on April 1st, but can be pre-ordered NOW.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Sue Ann Jaffarian is the critically acclaimed author of three mystery series: the Ghost of Granny Apples Mysteries, the Odelia Grey Mysteries, and the Madison Rose Vampire Mysteries. In addition to being a writer, Sue Ann is a full-time paralegal for a Los Angeles law firm and a sought-after motivational speaker.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Ghost of a Gamble by Sue Ann Jaffarian.
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