🎉 Happy official book release day to the talented Saffron Amatti for her latest installment in the Lucas Rathbone Mysteries, The Ghost Who Wasn’t Dead! I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of Saffron’s book, and I’m thrilled to offer up this 5-star review.
Find The Ghost Who Wasn’t Dead: A 1920s Murder Mystery here:
An Emotional Tale Wrapped in a Mystery – If you’re a fan of Saffron Amatti’s Lucas Rathbone Mysteries, the author has just released her latest book in time for the holidays. The Ghost Who Wasn’t Dead is not only the right book for the mystery lover on your list, but it’s also a reward for long-time fans who get to travel back to 1920s England with the turn of a page.
The twists you’ve come to expect from the author are all there – Amatti hasn’t shied away from sneaking in surprises. And of course, protagonist Lucas Rathbone still sees ghosts – the real ones and as the title itself reveals, the one who really isn’t so otherworldly. Amatti’s pen happily leads you in multiple directions to challenge you: Can you figure out who committed the murder?
Because it is a murder mystery…but this time, the author branches out further into the multiple relationships surrounding her characters and pairs this mystery with an emotional tale. Sharing all these storylines here would reveal spoilers – so I’ll stick to the ones I can highlight in this review.
We are a century past “The War to End All Wars” and unless you are a world history enthusiast, World War I might never cross your thoughts. But author Amatti sets her stories in 1920s England – the terrible war is fresh in everyone’s mind. Amatti has referred to WWI in previous books, but in The Ghost Who Wasn’t Dead, the author brings the aftermath of the war to the forefront. This book, set in the fictitious village of Castlebury Magna, reveals a remarkable story of two “war widows” – Lucas Rathbone’s mother Hettie and Clara Jenkins’ mother Flora.
The love and support shared between Hettie and Flora fills the pages of this book. Their intertwined pain, anger, sorrow, grief, strength, and even laughter are revealed to the reader in such a skillful way that at one point I simply stopped reading and thought about the relationship the author had created. I paused to imagine many, many women – and children – bonding over such a great loss. The gravity of the story – balanced by Amatti’s well-timed levity – is a meaningful addition to the mystery playing out over the pages.
While Lucas Rathbone is the main character in Amatti’s mystery series, his loveable girlfriend Clara and sometime friend Tommy Kilbourne are front and center in this latest installment. As Saffron explores what it means to lose a husband during the war, she also delves into what it means to lose a father. The trio – Lucas, Clara, and Tommy – have all experienced losing a parent as a child. In one particularly poignant flashback scene, the reader witnesses a young Lucas comforting a young Clara as she weeps over the loss of her father. It’s heart-wrenching, but there is beauty, too.
The author writes: “They clung to each other as their young hearts shattered, the pieces tumbling together so that, when they picked them up, both would unwittingly find fragments of the others’ mixed in with their own.”
Bad-buy-turned-better Tommy Kilbourne, a reader favorite, is the glue in this story as the other characters come to terms with what they know. Yes, TOMMY IS THE GLUE. Author Amatti has created a complex character over time, and in this installment, the reader can see the maturing of this “side character” into one that quite frankly could run with his own series. Tommy kept things moving forward and lent strength to his friends – and the storyline – perfectly.
Additionally, the village of Castlebury Magna could be considered a character in itself as the book explores the support and respect for dignity quietly given to widows such as Hettie Rathbone. The reader will find snippets of those interactions throughout the book.
But there IS a mystery in The Ghost Who Wasn’t Dead – and there are ghosts. Expect Mrs. Bird to play a strong role as she guides Lucas in the way we’ve come to expect. Much is revealed – about the past and the present. In fact, a jaw-dropping reveal will appear in the first few pages of the book.
Expect a bigger range of emotions in this latest installment from Saffron Amatti. She introduced more complexity than in previous books, and I suspect that moving forward we’ll see more of the same depth. For example, there are some scenes exposing what life was like in “the trenches” during WWI, and again, it’s hard to leave behind the thoughts of what it would be like for those living – and dying – in such horrific conditions.
Fans of the series will love the secrets Amatti spills this time around, and British mystery lovers will want to add this book to their shelves. Fans of books like The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell will enjoy celebrating the bonds formed between young mothers when loved ones are lost and lives are forever changed by war. Five stars to Saffron Amatti for The Ghost Who Wasn’t Dead and her deep dive into complex emotional exploration!
(Thank you to the author for my obligation-free review copy of her latest book in this much-loved paranormal mystery series!)
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