The word was spoken against my ear, and I stopped, my feet unwilling or unable to move.
Give it back.
The words seemed to grow louder instead of fading, my eardrums aching from the sound of them. Cold fingers fumbled at my neck, and I felt the clasp snap as the locket was snatched away from me.
It is mine! the voice screeched. I slid down the wall to a squat, pressing my hands against my ringing ears.
The icy fingers were at my neck again, but this time they were pressing against the flesh there, squeezing the breath out of me. I struck out at empty air and shouted for help, but the word came out as a gasp of air. Spots danced in front of me as the fingers dug into my neck, my throat burning, my eyes blinded with light. I tried to call out one more time, realizing as I began to slip into unconsciousness that the word I was trying to say was Jack. (from The Girl on Legare Street, page 178)
In The Girl on Legare Street, Karen White revisits the characters she introduced last year in The House on Tradd Street (click here to read my review). Overachieving, super-organized Realtor Melanie Middleton can see and hear ghosts. It's a gift she hasn't fully embraced, which can be a problem when you own and are in the process of restoring an historic home that just happens to be haunted. White paints another beautiful portrait of historic homes in Charleston, S.C., this time Melanie's childhood home on Legare Street. An even more sinister ghost haunts this home, and Melanie's mother, Ginnette, who abandoned her more than thirty years ago, is back. Melanie wants nothing to do with her, but with a little coaxing from Jack Trenholm -- a writer whom she met when she inherited the house on Tradd Street, the one who makes her heart flutter and her blood boil, depending on her mood -- and the various other people in her life, she is willing to tolerate her mother and help her purchase the house on Legare Street. She learns that her mother received a premonition and raced back to Charleston to protect her; Melanie can't understand why her mother left her as a child and came back now when she's old enough to take care of herself.
Ginnette has the gift, too, and she believes teaming up with Melanie will make them both strong enough to force the ghost inhabiting the Legare Street house out of their lives forever. But of course, when Melanie is involved, things rarely go easy. Although whiny at times, Melanie's ranting and raving about her mother's abandonment, her constant denial of her feelings for Jack, her jealousy of Jack's connection to the reporter writing a story about her mother, and even some romance with the ghost of a German soldier all provide plenty of entertainment as readers try to solve the riddles and mystery involving lockets, a journal, a stained glass window, and a body found in a trunk under the sea. Who is the ghost tormenting Melanie and her mother? How does the mystery involve Melanie's ancestors? And when is Melanie going to open her eyes when it comes to Jack? Well, you'll just have to grab a copy of The Girl on Legare Street and find out. (It's not crucial that you read The House on Tradd Street first, but it'll make certain things easier to follow. And it's a good book, so you should read it anyway.)
Karen White is a very talented Southern fiction writer. Her characters are lovable despite their flaws, and Melanie's first-person narration makes it feel like you're following around an old friend. White beautifully describes the homes of which she writes, and the mysteries are suspenseful enough to keep you reading past your bedtime. She does a great job setting a creepy mood when the ghosts appear, and while theses scenes aren't overly scary, you might think differently if you're reading them at night in your home alone. The Girl on Legare Street has something for everyone -- mystery, romance, familial drama, and of course, enough sexual tension that you could cut it with a knife.
White wraps up the mystery by the end of the book, but she opens up a whole new can of worms on the very last page, so you can bet I'm eagerly anticipating the third book in the Melanie and Jack saga, which is due out in Fall 2011.
Check out my Examiner page for my interview with Karen!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Girl on Legare Street from Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting for review purposes.