Running a Jersey Shore guesthouse means the day starts early. Really early. I’m talking early here. Like, five a.m. See? Early.

You have to be up before the guests, make sure everything’s in order, clean up anything that didn’t get cleaned up the night before, get coffee and tea ready (I don’t make breakfast; this ain’t no B&B—it’s just a B), get my daughter Melissa ready for school (although she does that mostly on her own; she’s 10) and make sure everything is all set up for the morning spook show.

Have to get the house ghosts in line.

Most mornings with Paul Harrison, our resident PI ghost, that’s not an issue; Paul is very conscientious and never misses a “performance,” especially since they are part of a deal we have. My guesthouse has gained—not surprisingly—a reputation for being haunted, and some guests really want to interact with “the spirits,” so I need to provide evidence of their residence (not bad, huh?) twice a day. I hold up my end of the bargain by occasionally, like whenever I can’t talk my way out of it, acting as Paul’s “legs” to the outside, living world when he finds a case he’d like to investigate. Apparently, being dead isn’t just a horror and a tragedy; it’s also boring.

Paul’s side of the bargain is that he performs at the daily spook shows and makes sure Maxie Malone does the same.

I haven’t told you about Maxie. Is there an emoticon for eye-rolling?

In addition to the usual guesthouse responsibilities, like making sure the guests have clean rooms, access to the beach, activities nearby and clean towels, I need to play den mother to Paul and (mostly) Maxie, who died by poisoning when she was 28-going-on 16. She keeps our lives… interesting. Worse, she’s actually become friends with Melissa, whom she considers her “roommate” in Melissa’s attic bedroom.

When Paul is forcing me against my will to look into a crime, that’ll happen mostly in the afternoon, between spook shows and when the guests are likely to be occupied elsewhere. The guesthouse comes first, and that means the guests come first.

But lately, the past has been coming to visit. Paul wants me to find some woman he was going to propose to before he died, just to see if she’s all right. Maxie wants me to find out who murdered her ex-husband—of four days—the biker “Big Bob,” whose remains were just found under the boardwalk in Seaside Heights.

And my own past—in the form of my ex-husband Steven (not at all affectionately referred to as The Swine)—has just arrived on my doorstep.

It’s going to be an interesting week.

Alison Kerby appears in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. The latest book in the series, OLD HAUNTS, was just published. You can find out more about Alison, her resident ghosts, and a contest to win OLD HAUNTS prizes at E.J.’s last name is not “Cooperman.”

** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of OLD HAUNTS to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends February 29. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Meet the author
E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, which began with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED and AN UNINVITED GHOST and continues now with OLD HAUNTS. E.J., whose last name is NOT “Cooperman,” lives and writes in New Jersey, because somebody has to, and no, has never seen a ghost. Unless you count Casper, but that was a long time ago.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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