Friday, November 01, 2019

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White

Melanie Trenholm has always seen ghosts and she lives in a house with spirits, at least one of whom comes only when needed. Now, in The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street, the most recent release in a series full of mystery and paranormal elements, Melanie has recently discovered a dark presence in her stepdaughter Nola's room, seen a man in old-fashioned clothing where an archeological dig is going on around her cistern, and smells the scent of roses always left by the ghost of a woman she helped to release in the first Tradd Street book.

Marc Longo is back to annoying her, as well, and now he's searching for a new treasure (this time, a French treasure brought to the continent by the Marquis de Lafayette), trying to foist his way into the Tradd Street house with a film crew, and determined to one day own the place. His brother Anthony now owns the other estate associated with the Tradd Street home, both of which had the same owner in the past. Anthony was conned into taking on the estate when his brother discovered the original treasure he sought was not there. Now, Marc is convinced that there's a connection between the mausoleum at the estate Anthony now owns and the bricks in the cistern at Tradd Street. But a presence in the mausoleum is keeping them from investigating.

When Melanie and others in her circle check out the mausoleum and some documents Marc stole, they find pieces of a puzzle. Meanwhile, Melanie and her sister, Jayne see several new spirits from the Revolutionary War era at Anthony Longo's home and Anthony is having frequent accidents. What do bricks, peacocks, and the warnings of ghosts mean? Can Melanie unravel the mystery in time to have a relaxing Christmas with her family?

First, a little background on my own reading of the series. I've only read the first book, The House on Tradd Street, prior to this one. When The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street was offered to me, I thought it was the perfect excuse to read The House on Tradd Street, which had been sitting on a pile in my library for years. Had I not recently read that first book, I would have been completely lost. Christmas Spirits stands alone well enough if you're familiar with at least the main characters but I would not go into the series in the middle. At the very least, you need an introduction. Fortunately, while a lot has happened and many new characters have been introduced, I had no trouble at all catching up on the general events of the books I've missed.

Recommended but not a favorite - If you have read and enjoyed past Tradd Street books, you'll probably love this one, as well. It is much like the other book I read, although obviously I can't speak for the rest. I remember there was a lot going on The House on Tradd Street and the same is true of The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street. There are a ton of different elements to the story. Christmas, by the way, is more of a backdrop than a feature. While Melanie and Jack are facing some immense challenges caused by Marc's intervention in their lives, as well as working to unravel the mystery and stay a step ahead of Marc as he chases down the same paths, Melanie is also involved in preparations for a "progressive dinner" for the Christmas season (I had to look that up -- it's a meal where each course is served at a different house). There are other preparations, like buying presents and gathering for a family photo, but they're really secondary and you could be forgiven for occasionally forgetting Melanie and Jack even have small children.

There are almost too many characters in the story -- many of whom were introduced in various novels as the series has progressed. I had a little difficulty getting them all straight in my head and I'm not sure all of them were necessary to the plot. In the end, though, it was ultimately satisfying how the mystery was wrapped up and the problems I had with the book were the same ones I had with The House on Tradd Street: there's a bit too much going on, the writing is wordy (tight writing with few wasted words is my personal preference), and I find Melanie annoying. Those are really a matter of individual taste, not commentary on the storyline, though. I liked the story's complexity so I still recommend it to those who have an affinity for paranormal stories.

My thanks to Berkley Books for the review copy!

Fiona Friday will be on the wrong day, once again, this week. Tune in tomorrow for your weekly cat fix!

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  1. I couldn't get into Tradd Street so I guess I will pass on this one.
    It's good to know that you really need to read the one book first.

    1. I had a little trouble getting myself through the first book but I was glad I'd read it, when I finished, because I liked the way she wrapped it up. Still . . . as complex and interesting as her mysteries are, I don't like the heroine and I do find myself drifting off, starting at walls, when I read her books. This will probably be my last by Karen White.


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