Hey, readers. Welcome to my first book review of 2023. I picked up a copy of this one over the Christmas holidays and couldn’t wait to delve into its pages.
The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is the first book I’ve read by author Amy M. Reade. It’s an older title published several years ago, but it didn’t disappoint.
I’ll preface this review by saying if you’re expecting ghostly encounters, don’t. While there is a ghost mentioned, the lead character does not have first-hand interaction with her.
Recently divorced Carleigh Warner is hired by the family of her friend, Evie Peppernell to restore the family’s mansion near Charleston, South Carolina. She and her three-year-old daughter Lucy make the long drive from Chicago and prepare to stay in the area for several months.
Carleigh meets Evie’s family—her grandmother Cora Camille, her parents, two brothers Harlan and Heath, an aunt, and a long-time family employee, Phyllis. Not long after Evie begins the restorative work, things begin happening. Family matriarch Cora-Camille becomes ill. Evie receives a threatening phone call. Someone tries to run her over with their car.
Not everyone in the family agrees on the plans for the manor. Evie’s brother Harlan and her mother Vivian are in favor of allowing a group of investors to pay for the restoration, then turn the house and grounds into a bed and breakfast/venue/tourist attraction. Cora Camille considers leaving the property to the state of South Carolina with the provision the family is allowed to live in the main manor.
Phyllis, whose ancestor Sarah was a slave at the manor, often talks with her apparition. She informs Carleigh that Sarah is not in favor of the restoration, especially when Carleigh wants to restore the property’s old slave cabins. Phyllis is also superstitious. After a stray dog shows up at Heath’s home on the estate, she claims it’s bad luck and bad things will continue to happen until the dog is gone.
For a while, it appears Phyllis is right. Cora Camille dies of natural causes, but the coroner also finds traces of thallium in her system. Harlan is murdered. Carleigh’s ex-husband is mauled by an alligator during a hurricane after he snuck onto the property to spy on her. And someone sets out to sabotage Carleigh’s work. Who is responsible?
The author kept me guessing. I questioned several family members’ motives. In the end, I was totally surprised as to the murderer’s identity.
There’s also a burgeoning romance between Carleigh and Heath. I also liked the historical aspects of the book. While much of history is dark, I think it’s important that we don’t try to change or hide it but learn so that we won’t repeat the same mistakes.
Overall, this was an enjoyable four-star read, and I look forward to more from this author.