Friday, October 14, 2011

Ghost Ship by P.J. Alderman

Title: Ghost Ship
Author: P.J. Alderman
ISBN: 9780553592115
Publisher: Bantam, 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Genre: Cozy, Amateur Sleuth, #2 Port Chatham mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Paperback Swap

First Line: He was a damned fool.

Jordan Marsh, a recent transplant to Port Chatham on the coast of Washington State, is still renovating her marvelous old Victorian house... and still getting used to the ghosts with whom she must share it.

Talked into a hike out to the New Dungeness Lighthouse, Jordan finds the body of Holt Stillwell lying on the beach. Jordan hasn't even had a chance to calm down from this discovery before she stumbles over yet another dead body. This time, the body belongs to Michael Seavey, Holt's ancestor. The spectral Seavey wants to solve his own death in a suspicious shipwreck in 1893. With two murders to solve, it's all Jordan can do to keep herself from running straight into the arms of pub owner, Jase Cunningham-- the man who just may be Mr. Right.

For no other reason, I would snap up the books in this series for their setting alone. Port Chatham is Port Townsend, Washington, in disguise. Port Townsend is a wonderful old town filled to bursting with beautiful examples of Victorian architecture. Its history is better than most fiction on the market today, which makes it the perfect setting for a mystery series.

The icing on the cake is the fact that there is much more to this series than its setting. Alderman combines an old mystery with one in the present day, much like British author, Kate Ellis (another favorite of mine). Like Ellis, Alderman combines her history and mystery to very good effect.

Jordan Marsh and the other characters populating Port Chatham are well drawn. Jordan may have her eye on a certain pub owner, but she isn't rushing into anything, which is something I like to see. She's also currently unemployed and living off savings. The house is taking more money than she planned. A financial solution is dangled in front of her, much like a carrot on a stick, and I was happy to see how that particular carrot was dealt with. As you can see, I've come to care for her and feel invested in how her life turns out.

Perhaps it's my knowledge of geneaology, but I found the killer a bit too obvious, and if there was anything else that didn't quite set well with me, it was Jordan's resident ghosts. Hattie, Charlotte and Frank live for drama, and if they'd wrecked my library twice, I'd be reading up on how to evict them all. Permanently. If those three can calm down and stop fussing, fighting and feuding, I'll be a very happy camper!

If you're in the mood for mysteries with a good blend of setting, history, crime, the paranormal, and a bit of romance, I recommend P.J. Alderman's Ghost Ship and the first book in the series, Haunting Jordan. I'd also recommend that you read them in order to get all the nuance in story and characterization.


  1. Sounds like a fun series and this book is perfect for spooky October!

  2. This one looks good and the setting is certainly appealing to me. I've got to look and see if I have the first book in the series. I think I might have it tucked away.

  3. If that is her house on the cover, it looks a bit tipsy. She does have a lot of work to do. This appeals to me, must look for it.

  4. Kathy-- You're right, it is!

    Kay-- Well, get it untucked, woman! ;)

    Barbara-- You're right. That case of dry rot must be worse than originally thought!

  5. Cathy - I love the setting for this one, too, and I can see how it would just pull you in! I have to admit I'm not sure I'd go for the paranormal aspect, but if it's done well...

  6. Margo-- I think the paranormal element may be beyond your limits. :(


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