In the third book of Carolyn Hart’s series, the long-departed Bailey Ruth Raeburn is enjoying the many perks of heaven, complete with orange polka-dot bikini, non-burning golden light, and the sight of her also-departed hubby, Bobby Mac, as he fishes aboard their long-sunk cabin cruiser. Bailey Ruth is filled with contentment when a telegram arrives in her hand. Of course, the message is from Wiggins, supervisor of the Department of Good Intentions.
Bailey Ruth cannot resist transporting directly to Wiggins when she reads that there's a problem in her beloved hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma. The word "skullduggery" reels her in like a tarpon on her husband's fishing line, even though --- as Bobby Mac reminds her --- she had quite the challenges the last time she was called upon. Sure, she had a few "oops" moments as a Heavenly gho… I mean "emissary" (the word "ghost" is frowned upon because of the scary connotations). Bailey Ruth had not exactly followed all of the "Precepts for Earthly Visitation." But she promises herself that she will abide by the rules exactly this time --- no more becoming visible and startling the earthbound. Even as she's telling herself she will be a rule-abiding emissary, though, her readers are saying, "Oh, SUUUUURE you will!"
Bailey Ruth is utterly delighted to find that her assignment is in Adelaide's showplace. Back when she was alive, she spent time in the mansion known as The Castle, since it was the site of charity functions. Unfortunately, she is daydreaming about a certain handsome resident of The Castle while Wiggins explains the predicament she will be facing soon. She doesn't want to admit her attention lapse to Wiggins since he constantly questions his reliance on her emissary skills, so she fakes understanding. Thus, when she disembarks from the Rescue Express into the rich scents and sounds of a warm Oklahoma summer night, she is essentially clueless at what she will find.
A woman descends the steps leading down to The Castle's terrace. As Bailey Ruth watches, she replaces her traveling suit with an ensemble more suited to a casual summer evening. After all, she may be invisible, but she likes to dress appropriately. The woman appears to be looking for someone. Suddenly, Bailey Ruth hears an odd crackling sound. She realizes that a huge vase directly above the woman is hurtling down. It will kill her if it hits her, so Bailey Ruth shoves the woman while yelling at her to jump. As she ponders who could have pushed the vase over, the victim pulls a gun on her invisible rescuer. She decides to show herself (after again changing her outfit). As she becomes visible, the two women gape at each other in dismay. Bailey Ruth knew and disliked Kay Clark during her lifetime --- and her animosity was fully returned.
As Bailey Ruth now discovers, she is here on Earth to keep Kay from harm. This is no easy task, considering Kay is at The Castle to find out who murdered her love, Jack Hume. Now the two women must at least try to control their dislike of each other while Kay first works to actually believe Bailey Ruth is not a figment of her imagination. Then, armed with Bailey Ruth's unearthly detective skills, they must decide who, of all the many suspects associated with The Castle, actually killed Jack.
GHOST IN TROUBLE is a delightful romp, complete with the hilarious and appealing Bailey Ruth's mixture of bumbling escapades and savvy detection. Bailey Ruth is so real, she could be sitting next to the reader (and maybe she is…who would know?) Author Carolyn Hart certainly brings her clothing, meals and Oklahoma environment vividly to life. This mystery is pure enjoyment for fans, who will be hoping Wiggins calls Bailey Ruth for another mission soon.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 22, 2011