Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle – Book Review

I've been looking forward to reading a book by Cleo Coyle. So when I got the opportunity to read The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait, I hopped right on it.

And to my surprise Cleo Coyle is actually two people! But more on that in the author bio below.

Book: The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait
(A Haunted Bookshop Mystery)

Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: 4 May 2021
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 0425251861
ISBN-13: 978-0425251867
Digital ASIN: B08274WCLM


Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and her gumshoe ghost team up to solve the stunning mystery at the heart of a madwoman’s self-portrait in this all new installment from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.

While gathering a collection of vintage book cover paintings for a special event in her quaint Rhode Island bookshop, Penelope discovers a spooky portrait of a beautiful woman, one who supposedly went mad, according to town gossip. Seymour, the local mailman, falls in love with the haunting image and buys the picture, refusing to part with it, even as fatal accidents befall those around it. Is the canvas cursed? Or is something more sinister at work?

For answers, Pen turns to an otherworldly source: Jack Shepard, PI. Back in the 1940s, Jack cracked a case of a killer cover artist, and (to Pen’s relief) his spirit is willing to help her solve this mystery, even if he and his license did expire decades ago.


Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle is the seventh book in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series and my first read for Coyle.

Penny McClure is the proud co-owner of Buy the Book, along with her aunt Sadie. Together with Penny's son Spencer, they live above the bookshop.

Penny has a ghost friend, Jack, a former private investigator (PI) from the 1940's. But Jack doesn't haunt the library. He only communicates with Penny with her mind. She can't see him and no one else can. Naturally, no one except her knows of his existence.

"I could tell from [the Sheriff's] change in expression and tone that she no longer though I was a threat. Clearly, I'd been demoted from "suspicious character" to "neurotic busybody" (or rambling idiot)."

Along with her two constantly-bickering-and-humorous friends Brainert and Seymour, Penny visits a Walt Waverly to borrow some art pieces for an upcoming exhibition in her book store. But the next day, as she goes to Waverly's again, she discovers the man dead.

At the same time, Seymour has purchased a portrait (from Waverly) of a Harriet McClure, an older relative of Penny's late husband. Seymour becomes obsessed with the painting.

One of the things I liked about The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait, was the fact there were not two but three mysteries! Two in Penny's world and one in Jack's.

In the modern world, Penny encounters not one but two deaths. With one of them coming close to home as her son's babysitter is accused of murder.

In addition, Seymour's recently-acquired portrait is believed to be haunted and a killer is trying to get their hands on it – no matter the number of dead bodies they leave in their wake.

Jack uses a kind of dream-memory technique to transport Penny (not physically) to his time and draws her into a case that more-or-less to her present. Jack's case relates to one of the borrowed paintings now sitting in Penny's bookstore.

I liked how Jack offered tips and ideas to Pen using his dream-memory technique, while also giving her a heads-up along the way as she searches for a killer.

I must say I did not expect the ending in The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait but I was intrigued by the mysteries.

Unlike most cozy mysteries, The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait doesn't offer a romantic opportunity for the main character, Pen. I found that different – in a good way. Although many cozies have led me to expect a touch of romance.

While it's unclear how Penny and Jack met the first time (it's definitely in book 1), I didn't feel like anything was missing as I started with the seventh book in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series.

book quote from cleo coyle's the ghost and the haunted portait

The Cleo Coyle duo has created a different kind of ghost, albeit it's a bit confusing. It felt like Penny could be crazy. She can't see the ghost but only hear him. She has a coin that belongs to Jack and by taking it out of the library, she's able to communicate with Jack anywhere.

Cleo Coyle's The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait can be easily read as a standalone. That said, I'd love to read more of this series, whether past or future books.

Overall rating for The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle: 5 stars


Note: I got a free Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle from its publisher as part of blog tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This did not in any way affect my review of the book.


Check out book 8: The Ghost and the Stolen Tears

About the author(s)

Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating eighteen years in print. 

They are also authors of the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, previously written under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. 

A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also both bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.

Connect with the author(s) via their website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Bookbub.

Purchase Links:

Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Google Play    IndieBound

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour including interviews, more reviews, guest posts, and spotlights.

4 May – Baroness' Book Trove & FUONLYKNEW – Spotlights

5 May – The Editing Pen & Laura's Interests – Book reviews & Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Spotlight

6 May – MJB Reviewers – Spotlight, Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Book review & Novels Alive – Guest Post

7 May – Books to the Ceiling & Christy's Cozy Corners – Book Reviews & I'm All About Books – Spotlight

8 May – The Avid Reader – Book Review & Literary Gold & StoreyBook Reviews – Spotlights

9 May –Diane Reviews Books – Book review & Brooke Blogs – Spotlight

10 May –Brianne's Book Reviews & Cozy Up With Kathy & Nadaness In Motion – Book Reviews

11 May –  ebook addicts & Sapphyria's Book Reviews – Spotlights

12 May – Here's How It Happened & Maureen's Musings – Spotlights & The Book's the Thing & Books a Plenty Book Reviews – Book reviews

13 May – BookishKelly2020 & Author Elena Taylor's Blog – Spotlights & Mysteries with Character – Guest Post