Title: The Perfect Ghost
Author: Linda Barnes
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Gothic Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
After the death of her writing partner, Teddy, in a car accident, Em Moore is bereft. Teddy protected Em from the world, made her painful shyness and slight agoraphobia more difficult to bear. But when Em receives the news that the publisher is about to cancel the book that she and Teddy were working on, Em knows she must put aside her personal issues and go out in the world to finish what her partner started.
It’s difficult to classify the genre of The Perfect Ghost. It definitely has elements of a mystery, especially surrounding Teddy’s death, but it’s not clear whether his death was suspicious. The person that Em is writing about, a famous director named Garrett Malcolm, also has skeletons in his closet that Em uncovers, but it’s difficult to say that this book is actually a mystery. In fact, the reader doesn’t even know what the book is building to, but the twists and turns at the end of the novel are shocking, to say the least.
The Perfect Ghost is told in first person narration with Em as the narrator, but she basically tells the story to Teddy. It reveals some interesting things about Em, but on the flip side, you only see the side of herself that she would present to Teddy. It makes it difficult to get to know her, especially because she is such a painfully shy character. As she opens up over the course of the novel, the reader hopes that she’ll settle and become more comfortable in her own skin.
The novel is also filled to the brim with the atmosphere of Cape Cod; the descriptions and closeness of the air almost make it feel like a modern-day gothic mystery. Indeed, the close-held, confession-style narration adds to that feeling, as do the layered puzzles that Em digs into about Malcolm. Barnes includes some interesting observations on the craft of both writing and the theater, making this a well rounded novel with many different aspects.
Confused by what The Perfect Ghost is about after reading this review? That’s understandable; it’s an incredibly difficult book to describe. What I can say is that it’s very well written, with an intriguing main character and great twists and turns. If you like your mysteries smart and layered, this is definitely a novel to consider.