Bailey Ruth Raeburn is a lovely, kind-hearted, impulsive
redhead. She is also quite dead, having expired with her dear
husband Bobby Mac when their cabin cruiser sunk in a storm. Bailey
Ruth loves Heaven --- after all, what's not to love about looking
27 once again, wearing whatever one wants at will, a constant
perfect temperature, visiting one's own departed loved ones, and so
on? Well, as a matter of fact, Bailey Ruth has one lack. She longs
to feel needed. She wants to be helpful, so she volunteers at the
Department of Good Intentions to be an ambassador to Earth. After
all, she's been enjoying Heaven's bounty for quite some time, and
she would like to assist a living person while still remembering
When Bailey Ruth reaches the Department of Good Intentions,
she's surprised to see it’s a country train station. She
meets Wiggins, the man in charge, who appears to be a bit concerned
about her long-standing habit of indulging in impetuous behavior.
He also calls her "forthright," a rather mellow way to describe her
habit of speaking her mind. Bailey Ruth maintains that she has
become much more dignified of late.
Wiggins must respond to an immediate emergency, so he sends
Bailey Ruth hastily to Earth. First, though, he explains how
necessary it is for any emissary of the Department of Good
Intentions to master the Precepts --- rules for behavior, most of
which are destined to be broken by Wiggins's newest recruit.
Although she suggested she would be perfect for helping someone
in Paris, Bailey Ruth lands in her old hometown of Adelaide,
Oklahoma, just in time to find Kathleen Abbott, the rector's wife,
discovering the corpse of local businessman Daryl Murdoch. Due to
circumstances, Kathleen stands a good chance of being accused of
his murder, even though she is innocent. Bailey Ruth's job is cut
out for her, starting with a hasty removal of the victim's
Of course, Kathleen is just a wee bit startled to have an often
invisible companion, no matter how helpful. But desperation assists
her in accepting Bailey Ruth's aid. Bailey Ruth can appear when she
wants, although that infringes on one of Wiggins's pesky Precepts.
She also can't resist other Precept transgressions, such as
invisibly yanking a flashlight from a would-be cemetery prankster.
But the clock is ticking, and she must use her otherworldly talents
to discover who actually murdered Daryl Murdoch before an innocent
person ends up in jail. As Bailey Ruth untangles a considerable web
of secrets, lies and deceits, she is also bemused by modern
contraptions, such as computers and cell phones. And she discovers
a heartwarming connection with Kathleen's young daughter.
A combination of the good-natured, bumbling angel Clarence from
the movie It's a Wonderful Life and homey Jessica Fletcher
of TV's "Murder, She Wrote," Bailey Ruth has to be the most
appealing and original character in recent cozy mystery memory.
GHOST AT WORK is a madcap, hilarious comedy that moves along at a
good pace. The plot twists in surprising ways (one major curveball
late in the tale is particularly unexpected and finely executed).
This is light, appealing escape fare that will not change your life
or philosophy, but it is highly recommended for pure unalloyed
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 22, 2011