Monday, September 28, 2015

A Ghostly Demise/Murder by Tonya Kappes - #review #giveaway

The prodigal father returns—but this ghost is no holy spirit.

When she runs into her friend's deadbeat dad at the local deli, undertaker Emma Lee Raines can't wait to tell Mary Anna Hardy that he's back in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, after five long years. Cephus Hardy may have been the town drunk, but he didn't disappear on an epic bender like everyone thought: He was murdered. And he's heard that Emma Lee's been helping lost souls move on to that great big party in the sky.

Why do ghosts always bother Emma Lee at the worst times? Her granny's mayoral campaign is in high gear, a carnival is taking over the town square, and her hunky boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, is stuck wrestling runaway goats. Besides, Cephus has no clue whodunit…unless it was one of Mrs. Hardy's not-so-secret admirers. All roads lead Emma Lee to that carnival—and a killer who isn't clowning around.


I told you I was sick, reads the headstone above Mamie Sue Preston's grave. She was the richest woman in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, and also the biggest hypochondriac. Ironic, considering someone killed her-proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, know all this? Because Mamie Sue's ghost told her, that's how! And she's offering big bucks to find the perp.

The catch is, Mamie Sue was buried by the Raines family's arch-rival, Burns Funeral Home. Would the Burns family stoop to framing Emma Lee's granny? With an enterprising maid, a penny-pinching pastor, and a slimy Lexington lawyer all making a killing off Mamie Sue's estate, Emma Lee needs a teammate-like her dreamboat boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross. Because with millions at stake, snooping around is definitely bad for Emma Lee's health.



A Ghostly Demise - This is the 3rd book in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series, the first two having been A Ghostly Undertaking and A Ghostly Grave.

I have to admit, being from deep in the Bluegrass myself, I identify strongly with the characters and small town atmosphere in these books.  Zula Fae reminds me of my husband's paternal grandmother.  (There is a family story that the sheriff and a deputy came calling one day, and the senior officer told the junior to leave his duty weapon in their vehicle, otherwise he'd get Mamaw riled up.)

And I get how in the first and maybe the second book, people were a little leery of Emma Lee's claims to see ghosts.  But by now, after she had claimed to talk to two ghosts, and subsequently solved their murders, you'd think people would stop thinking she's a little crazy.

I love how it's not obvious at first whodunit.  Even better, when it's not obvious at second or third either.  Although A Ghostly Demise reads quite well as a standalone, you can bet I'm going to go back and read parts one and two!

Sleepy Hollow reminds me of Mayberry, with Cephus Hardy being the "Otis" (town drunk) character.   You see, Cephus is the ghost in this installment, having 'disappeared' five years previously.  Most folks think he just had a long 'lost weekend', but after Emma Lee sees him (and realizes that he is, actually, a ghost) she realizes differently.

Wonderful glimpses into the quirks of small town living in my home state made A Ghostly Demise a pleasure to read for this "KentuckyGal". 

A Ghostly Murder - I have to tell 'you'un's, I was delighted to once again visit Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, to check in on Emma Lee Raines, her granny Zula Fae, her boyfriend Jack Henry and the other colorful citizens, including this installment's ghost, who in life was the wealthy Mamie Sue Preston.

The fact that Mamie Sue was wealthy is the motive for her murder.  But with a number of people benefiting financially from her demise, there is no dearth of suspects.  Once again, Ms. Kappes gives us enough clues to keep the story snapping, but not enough to give up all the secrets right at the first.  I love mysteries like that.

Although most smaller towns in my part of the state only have one funeral home, Sleepy Hollow is 'blessed' (?) with two, one run by the Raines family and one by their rivals, the Burns.  The Burns family handled Mamie Sue Preston's funeral and they would just love it if Zula Fae was implicated in the crime.  So maybe Emma Lee has a little more at stake in her investigation this time around.

Luckily she has her boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, in her corner.  I guess you see so many cozy heroines dating (or married to) lawmen because they wind up professionally stepping on each other's toes.  The law doesn't want civilians solving cases.  I can see that, though, because it's the law's responsibility, and they have sworn to protect and serve.  

There is a Sleepy Hollow Road in Oldham County, Kentucky, and several paranormal activities are reported to have taken place on that road.  I'm not going to discount them out of hand because, 1) I've never been there, and 2) "there are more things in heaven and earth" than any one of us really know about.

  • genuine spooky feeling?  check
  • romance progressing nicely?  check
  • down for installment #5:  BIG CHECK!

I have to say that the Ghostly Southern Mysteries is turning out to be a favorite cozy series.  Not only is it full of Kentucky charm (GO BIG BLUE!), but the characters are colorful and memorable, the action is well paced and the mystery is delicious!



Tonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, with a loyal ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media. Be sure to check out her Facebook, Twitter, blog and newsletter!



Thanks to the author and tour company, I am authorized to give away one e-copy of either book to one lucky commenter!  So tell me, what intrigues you most about either (or both) book(s)?  Make sure to leave a way for me to contact you.  Winner will be chosen Monday, October 5, 2015!!!


Click the banner above to go to the tour page, where you can find more reviews, as well as guest posts, interviews and more giveaways!  You can also apply to become a tour host for Great Escapes while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received ecopies of these books from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased reviews.)


  1. Love her books. It's fun trying to figure out who did it.

  2. I think both books sound wonderful. I'm intrigued by both books because I've heard so much about them.

  3. I need to read more stories with ghosts.