Charleston Green is a mystery story with a difference, a decidedly paranormal difference at that. Recently divorced artist Tipsy Collins is struggling to get back on her feet following an acrimonious split from appalling ex-husband Ayers, so she jumps at the chance to live rent-free for a few months in a house owned by her former brother-in-law Jimmy. It should be the perfect place to recover from the messy divorce and rediscover her purpose in life. There’s just one problem: the house isn’t exactly unoccupied.
For as long as she can remember, Tipsy has been able to see and talk with the dead. Now, as dead people tend to be rather self-involved and annoying, she’s done her best to ignore them (save for her Granna, whose ghost represents a comforting presence), but there’s no ignoring Jane and Henry Mott, former (and, unknown to everyone except Tipsy, current) occupiers of the house. The Motts died in mysterious circumstances back in 1923; Jane maintains that Henry murdered her and then killed himself, while Henry is certain that he would never do such a thing. Unfortunately, as neither of them can remember the fateful afternoon, they have been trapped together ever since. Helping them uncover the truth might be just the distraction that Tipsy needs…
Charleston Green is a charming story with a mystery at its heart. Tipsy is a wonderful main character. Humorous, kind, and gutsy, she doesn’t realize just how brave and resilient she really is. She’s had a lot to put up with in life (and that’s without being a reluctant psychic) and at the start of the book, she has somewhat lost her way. Ayers is a truly awful guy who thinks nothing of maligning his former wife or of getting others to spy on her. Through Tipsy’s post-marriage situation, the book sheds some surprising light on the divorce process and aftermath in South Carolina. With no alimony available and having given up her art career to raise her family, Tipsy is left in a very precarious situation when she leaves Ayers. She’s grateful to have somewhere to live, even if she does have to share it with a pair of bickering ghosts.
As for the ghosts, their strong personalities have certainly endured beyond death. For all their Southern charm and graceful manners, the late Jane and Henry Mott are both pieces of work, although they are very funny as they snipe at each other. Tipsy becomes obsessed with discovering what really happened to them and, aside from talking to their spirits, this involves having visions of their lives during the 1920s. Of course, being sucked out of time and into visions of the past poses its own problems, and Tipsy’s former in-laws become more convinced than ever that she’s a disgrace and an unfit mother. Luckily, she has her children, some good friends, and even a potential new love interest to help her navigate the situation. Wrapping up the mystery of the Motts’ deaths should help her to rediscover her self-belief and to wrap up a few loose ends in her own life, too.
With Charleston Green, Stephanie Alexander has crafted a delightfully cozy mystery that, despite not being without peril, is a fun and pleasurable read. The baddies are nicely awful, while the goodies are warm, funny, and resourceful. There’s an intriguing puzzle to be solved as well as life lessons to be learned, and it’s very entertaining to follow the escapades of the various characters, both alive and dead.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Page Count||362 pages|
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