The Book of Beloved

Written by Carolyn Haines
Review by Lorraine Norwood

Carolyn Haines is off to a great start with The Book of Beloved, the first book in her new series, Pluto’s Snitch. The main character, Raissa James, is a young World War I widow with a particular talent—she sees dead people. When Raissa accepts an invitation to attend a party at her uncle’s plantation in Mobile, Alabama, Raissa starts to see spirits in abundance. Trouble is, not all the spirits are friendly. In fact, they may have committed murder—in the present as well as the past.

Enlisting the help of Reginald Proctor, a self-proclaimed medium, Raissa holds a séance. The results are far more terrifying than Raissa or Reginald imagined. To solve the murders, she and Reginald embark on the trail of old scandals from the Civil War that threaten the reputations of some of Mobile’s finest. When Raissa uncovers the dark history that haunts the estate, her life is in danger. The ghosts seem to want to help, but some can’t be trusted. Who among the spirits is friend? And who is foe?

Readers of paranormal mysteries will love the complexity of the spirits and their tragic stories. And while the dark historical details of the Confederacy come alive, so do the appalling effects of racism in the 1920s. We can look forward to more adventures with Raissa and Reginald, hopefully in the deep South of bayous and Spanish moss, a land she paints beautifully with words. The Book of Beloved is a fun but eerie read, well-written by Haines, author of 18 novels, including the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. Highly recommended.