Monday, October 25, 2010

Jennie Bentley: Halloween Guest Blogger

Continuing the series of Crime Writer Halloween Guest Blogs (scroll back to check them all out and the list of Halloween Mysteries), today I welcome Jennie Bentley as Guest Blogger. Jennie is also offering  a copy of Spackled and Spooked. Read on.

Jennie Bentley is the author of the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime, as well as A Cutthroat Business, first in the Savannah Martin Southern real estate mysteries from PublishingWorks, published in her own name, which is Bente Gallagher. You can find out more about both of them at


First of all, thanks to Janet for asking me to blog here on Mystery Fanfare; it’s a great honor to be included.

Yes, I did indeed write a sort of Halloween mystery a year ago. It wasn’t my intention to write a Halloween mystery, though; things just sort of happened that way. I finished the first book in the Do It Yourself home renovation series with a setting in the summer, and it made sense that the next book would take place in the fall. Leaves were changing color, the nights were getting longer and darker, and Derek and Avery had to choose another house to renovate. I’ve always been enamored with ghost stories, so a haunted house seemed like just the ticket. And when I had the haunted house, with unexplained footsteps and eerie screams and a skeleton buried in the crawlspace... what could be more natural than ending the book on Halloween?

The name of it is “Spackled and Spooked,” and it’s the second book in the DIY series, after “Fatal Fixer-Upper.” It was released around this time last year. A third book, “Plaster and Poison,” has come out since, and a fourth, “Mortar and Murder,” is scheduled for release in January. There’s nothing supernaturally spooky in any of the others, since I don’t actually write paranormals. Nor do any of them take place on Halloween, if it comes to that. I’ve covered another year of book time, though—the book I just handed in, #5, was set during the summer—so maybe the one I have yet to write will have to have a Halloween theme.


And I do love a good ghost story. Lucky for me, there are some fantastic ones out there.

One of my favorites was released 42 years ago, back when I was but a gleam in my mother’s eye, practically speaking. Barbara Mertz, writing as Barbara Michaels, wrote “Ammie, Come Home” in 1968, and it has one of the most chilling examples of ghostly possession ever penned. Like all of Mertz/Michaels/Elizabeth Peters’s books, it’s also marvelously written, quite funny at times, and with a very satisfying love story or two.

Since we’re on the subject of Mertz/Michaels/Peters, she also wrote “Devil May Care,” and “House of Many Shadows,” and “Witch,” and “The Crying Child,” and a slew of others, all of which handle ghosts and spirits in various incarnations, and all of which are stellar.

More recently—like last month—Jennifer Crusie’s latest, “Maybe This Time,” arrived in stores. She’s an autobuy for me, and you can imagine my excitement when I not only found the expected humor and fantabulous love story, but also ghosts and—yes—even an instance or two of possession.

Not that I have a particular thing for possession, you understand, but ghostly possession can be a lot of fun. To read about; I’m not sure I’d like it if it happened to me.

And then there’s Lillian Stewart Carl, whose every protagonist generally deals with ‘ghost allergies.’ You can’t really go wrong with a Lillian Stewart Carl—she’s been compared to both Barbara Michaels and the brilliant Mary Stewart—but if I had to mention one book in particular, it would have to be “Shadows in Scarlet,” a paranormal romantic suspense romp in which Amanda, a tour guide at a historic home in Virginia, falls in love with the ghost of James Grant and ends up taking his spirit to his home castle in Scotland. I won’t go into details of the story, but it’s great, and even includes—for those of you who get off on that kind of thing—a ghost/human sex scene. There may be more of those out there, but this was the first I’d read, and quite well done, I might add. (And in case you wonder about the feasibility, as does a certain character in the book, to quote Amanda, who ought to know, “he had plenty of substance.”)

I could keep going, but I won’t. Instead, why don’t you leave a comment to tell me about your favorite ghost book, and I’ll send a copy of “Spackled and Spooked” to a random commenter to be announced at the end of the day.

Happy Halloween!


Kelley said...

I love all of the Barbara Michaels and Mary Stewart books! And Barbara Michaels did write some wonderful haunting stories. I wish she would come out with something new!

Overall though, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, has to be my all time favorite ghost story. I love the book and I even love the Disney version of it :) To this day, that story creeps me out, but the atmosphere is wonderful and spooky. A great read on a cold, dark, rain night :)

Jenna said...

Kelley, as I'm sure you know, the Elizabeth Peters persona released an Amelia Peabody 'missing years' book earlier this year. I think it was called A River in the Sky. Must admit I haven't gotten around to reading it yet... Those don't tend to be spooky, though. Don't know if Barbara Michaels will ever publish another. Sad thought.

Ooooh, yes. Sleepy Hollow. Good one!

Kelley said...

Jennie, You know I have never read any of the Amelia Peabody books. I've tried to read the first one a couple of times, but couldn't get into it. Which is a surprise, because I love EP and all of her other books. And I love reading things about Egypt. Maybe one day I will get back and try again.

Maddy said...

Ghosts and humour! Sounds like a winning recipe to me. I've not read many ghost stories recently although I used to devour them way back when. Probably the last one that was really memorable for me was Roald Dahl's book of Ghost Stories back in the nineties - I'm probably due for an update. : )

Jenna said...

Sounds like it's time, Maddy! And there are some great ones out there, too. Especially right now, with the whole paranormal craze going on. Not as many ghosts as vamps and weres and demons and such, but a few.

Jenna said...

I'm gonna make an executive decision here and say that Kelley, you've already read all my books, right? I think we should give the copy of Spackled and Spooked to Maddy; so Maddy, if you'll email me at with your snail mail address, I'll get it in the mail to you. And Kelley, how about you do the same, and in a couple of months, I'll send you a copy of Mortar and Murder when I get my hands on it. Does that sound fair?

Thanks for playing, you guys! And thanks for having me on the blog, Janet! Appreciate it! xoxo

Janet Rudolph said...

And, thanks so much for stopping by! Looking forward to your next visit...and book!

Kelley said...

Jennie, I totally agree with your decision. I have read all of your books and getting someone else a copy so they can enjoy them is a wonderful idea! And Maddy, you are going to love this series! Jennie is an excellent storyteller and really cares about her books, her characters and her readers.

And thank you in advance for the newest one!! I can't wait to get it, so I can devour it asap!

Lillian Stewart Carl said...

Thanks for the mention, Jennie. I love Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters' books, and have been lucky enough to meet her at Malice and tell her so.