review: the ghost hunter next door

The Ghost Hunter Next Door by Danielle Garrett (2017)

Looking for a light read that offers a good mystery, a bit of the paranormal, and a dash of romance? The Ghost Hunter Next Door by Danielle Garrett checks all the boxes. This is book one in Garrett’s Beechwood Harbor Ghost Mystery series, which I would categorize as cozy mystery/ paranormal suspense. For my readers who (like me) have a book budget you try not to bust every month, here are your options: (1) it’s in Kindle Unlimited if you are a subscriber or (2) it will cost you $1 (plus tax). It wasn’t available from my local library. Between you and me, it’s worth your book dollars, especially if you are a fan of cozy mysteries. I’m not a huge fan of cozy mysteries, but every once in a while I want something that’s a little different from my favorite genres. This is my first time reading Danielle Garrett’s work, and I was pleasantly surprised and fully satisfied with my reading experience.

Let’s talk about the main protagonist of the story, Scarlet Sanderson. She’s a thirty-year old singleton who has recently settled in the small town of Beechwood Harbor, Washington. For most of her 20s, Scarlet travelled around the world, taking odd jobs to finance her travels as well as help from the Bank of Mom and Dad when she needed extra help. Upon her death, Scarlet’s grandmother left her some money and encouraged her to pursue one of her dreams—opening a flower shop. The thing that makes Scarlet different (well, aside from her seemingly privileged upbringing and early life) is that she can see and talk with ghosts. Because ghosts can be a demanding lot, Scarlet has taken the suggestion of one of her ghost friends, Gwen, to conduct a “ghost support group” on Sunday nights. During this time ghosts can come to Scarlet and ask for her help. The story happens to open right before one of these group sessions, during which a female ghost appears and threatens mortal harm if Scarlet does not stop the renovations being done to Lilac House by the hosts of a television design show. The ghost shatters the front door to Scarlet’s flower shop, prompting her to make a run to the grocery store that ultimately leads to the story’s meet cute moment (more on that later). Over the course of the story, we learn that the ghost’s name is Rosie and she’s angry because she believes she was murdered by her fiancé, who she accused of cheating on her. Stopping Rosie from harming the work crew and figuring out the mystery behind her death are the story goals Scarlet and her friends will pursue for the rest of the novel. All while Scarlet attempts to get (perhaps fruitlessly) the one thing she wants most—a semi-normal life.

The supporting cast of characters is a highlight of the novel, and each character pulled me further into the world of Beechwood Harbor and made it easy for me to stay there and want to return. The ghosts who make up Scarlet’s circle of friends are Gwen, who died in the 70s as the result of a stage-diving accident; Hayward, the ghost of a 19th century English gentleman who has a crush on Gwen and refers to Scarlet as “Lady Scarlet”; and Flapjack, the ghost of the cat Scarlet had when she was a little girl. Gwen is definitely a mentor/mother type figure for Scarlet and Hayward plays the role of father figure—interesting in its own right in that, from the few hints dropped during the course of the story, it appears Scarlet and her parents don’t have the best of relationships (her parents live in Phoenix). In addition to the ghosts, we meet Officer Jason Keith, who has his own crush on Scarlet but as of yet it is unrequited. Then there’s the love interest, Lucas Greene. Lucas is a visitor to Beechwood Harbor, there to work on the production of the television show that has taken on the job of renovating Lilac House. Lucas is former military who also spent some time after his discharge traveling the world, and he and Scarlet bond over their mutual wanderlust. Scarlet and Lucas meet when she accidentally wanders onto the closed set surrounding Lilac House and is tackled by him. Scarlet reveals her secret to Lucas—that she can see ghosts—and tries to warn him of the danger Rosie possesses. Upon learning of the danger, Lucas agrees to help her unravel the mystery and in this way stands in as both sidekick and love interest. There’s really no BFF character in the story, and I’m curious as to whether or not one will be introduced and developed as the series continues. On the whole, the supporting cast enriches the story and adds color to this small town setting.

I said in the beginning of this review that I’m not a huge fan of cozy mysteries, but Danielle Garrett has won me over. The fact that I have already added the next book in this series, Ghosts Gone Wild, to my to-read list and look forward to continuing this new-to-me series are the clearest indicators of how much I enjoyed reading this book. Did I give it a five-star rating? No, but it did get four stars and I recommend it to other readers who are fans of this genre. If you’re in one of those moods where you’re not sure what you want to read, and you don’t want to endlessly scroll through your options, try The Ghost Hunter Next Door. It’s just the right mix of light mystery and ghost story that will satisfy your need to read.

Have you read The Ghost Hunter Next Door or any of the other books in the Beechwood Harbor Ghost Mystery series? What did you think?

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