The Marilynn Gaines Murder
**** 4 stars — Supernatural Romance about Murder, Justice, and Crime Investigation
Are ghosts real? Do they come back to haunt the living, or do they just seek justice for crimes committed against them? Retired mystery writer Daniel McCormack is about to find out the answers to these questions in “The Marilynn Gaines Murder.”
While the title at first made me expect a modern-day murder story of domestic violence, the novel’s murder actually takes place in 1798 when a woman, who discovers her husband is cheating on her, mysteriously disappears. Her husband claims she has left their home in Maine to return to Ireland to visit her family, but the townspeople suspect murder. As time goes by—two hundred years worth—the rumors that the Gaines house is haunted circulate about the small town. However, when Daniel McCormack, a widowed California author about to retire, considers purchasing the Gaines residence, the townspeople remain silent about the house’s secrets.
Yet the townspeople embrace Daniel as a friend. He meets many quirky, humorous, caring people from Ron at the local grocery store who insists on passing out free coffee, to Cathy the waitress who loves to joke around, and Claire, the bed and breakfast owner who stuffs Daniel with pancakes and whipping cream. And then there’s the real estate agent, known locally as “Big Mouth Mike” who will do anything to sell the Gaines’ house, including keeping the truth from Daniel.
But most quirky and surprising of all are the events Daniel begins to experience, from seeing a strange woman in the windows of his house, to a music box starting to play a different song than it should, and a grandfather clock that starts chiming the wrong chimes in the middle of the night. Medium Madame Zola is called in to investigate, and eventually, Marilynn Gaines’ spirit will communicate with Daniel.
While “The Marilynn Gaines Murder” is not exactly a thriller, it will intrigue people interested in crime investigations and everything involved in identifying a body, especially one from a crime committed far in the past. The story’s pace is a bit slow and detailed in the first third or so of the book as Daniel prepares to move to Maine, but once he moves into his house and realizes it is haunted, the story moves along effortlessly. The plotting is unconventional and far from the typical horror stories readers might suspect; rather it’s a tale of wrongs being righted and enduring love, along with some political red tape to add reality and frustration to the main character’s experience. While not a perfect novel, “The Marilynn Gaines Murder” shows much promise for new author W. Robert O’Brien, and a preview of his next novel “It’s All About Abby!” is included at the end.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and author of the award-winning Narrow Lives
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