Ghost Daughter: Alice MacDonald Greer Mystery Series
by Helen Currie Foster
Stuart’s Creek Press

"I just want you to know that Ellie had you on her mind, but she died before we could meet–to make any decision."

This seventh installment in the author's mystery series is a dynamic whodunit novel that has the perfect blend of character development and plot engagement. True to form, Foster’s work takes Alice from the comfortable confines of her Texas Hill country ranch to the mystique of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as she works to unravel one mess in a series of dysfunctions that highlights the main character’s ability to thrive even in the most pressure-packed of situations.

The writing is electric, with Foster demonstrating her mastery of pace, seamlessly weaving dialogue and prose to bring the entire narrative to life. In particular, there are a number of concurrent narratives that come together, yet they feel as though they are part of the overall tapestry rather than a secondary portion of the novel. When Ellie Windom, a friend and client, is found murdered in her own home in Santa Fe, chaos ensues, threatening to shed light on a litany of secrets that had lain dormant for years.

Like any good murder mystery, there are a number of angles and prospective perpetrators with more than enough reasons to murder Ellie. Right off the bat, Alice herself is in a precarious situation after agreeing to be the executor of the will—something she would normally never agree to—for her dear friend. With the seemingly simultaneous reemergence of Ellie’s old high school flame, Roger, a daughter given up for adoption at birth, and children, Don and Chuck—complete with annoying wives—who are unable or unwilling to wait for Ellie’s life to run its natural course, the suspect list is rather long. To further complicate matters, when the authentic Gustave Baumann prints enter the fold, and it is revealed that the original—The Bishop’s Apricot—is missing from Ellie’s wall, the motivations of key players like art professor Clare Graham are also called into question. Needless to say, the author has done a remarkable job of creating a labyrinth of suspects with probable cause and the wherewithal to do the deed.

Perhaps what is most intriguing in Foster’s work is her ability to make each character memorable, whether heroine, villain, or anyone in between. For example, there’s Wiry Wayne, whom Alice outsmarts, and then Burly Brian, both fittingly named to add timely comic relief during high-stakes situations. And there is no shortage of these as the action reaches a frenetic pace with brake lines being cut, bullets being dodged on the road, and surviving intruders determined to get their hands on the Baumann prints. Alice’s brewing romance (and impending union) with Ben Kinsear mostly flies under the radar, but his daughter, Isabel, and boyfriend, Sam, are instrumental in being Alice’s allies, along with Silla, her assistant, throughout the action-packed scenes.

Though Foster’s work is a testament to how murder mysteries should unravel, Alice’s character steals the show, displaying a cornucopia of humor and grit to unveil earth-shattering secrets and restore justice while keeping the audience entertained. When the “chips have fallen,” audiences will find that Foster’s work is a masterpiece in storytelling, one that will leave readers waiting for the next book in this engaging mystery series.

A 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Short List book.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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