Thursday, April 03, 2014

My Baby Wrote Me A Letter! Greetings from the Graveyard (43 Cemetery Road) by Kate Klise


Things are peaceful at the mansion at 43 Cemetery Road. Residential ghost-writer Olive C. Spence, and her co-author Ignatious B. Grumply are serenely working on their next haunted mystery, and their foster son, Seymour Hope, is happily illustrating a new line of interment-themed greeting cards, Greetings from the Graveyard, at the inspiration of Olive. But their restful writing is interrupted by a letter from Grumply's long-lost love, Nadia S. Richenov:

Dear Ignatius,

I hope you didn't have a heart attack when you opened this letter. I nearly had a heart attack last night when I was at a party and everyone was talking about a wonderful book called 43 Cemetery Road. "Nadia, you simply must read it," my friends said. "It's about a haunted mansion in Ghastly, Illinois." I pretended to be interested. "Who's the author?" I asked with a yawn. "Well," said my friends, it's co-written by a ghost named Olive C. Spence and the man who rented her mansion, Ignatius B. Grumply."

Ignatius B. Grumply? The man who asked me to marry him years ago? The man whose proposal I turned down like a bedspread?

I'm dying to see you, Iggy!

Love always,

It seems Nadia's finances are failing, and her old fiance' Iggy is apparently rolling in royalties, plenty reason for Nadia to hotfoot it to Ghastly to try to re-ignite an old flame. Ignatius's heart, however, has grown stone cold after being jilted, and he rightly suspects that Richenov's ardor is purely pecuniary. He commissions a personal reply, via card, stating that their relationship should merely rest in peace.

Meanwhile, there are several mysterious coincidences arising in the vicinity of Cemetary Road. Celebrity art critic, Art Smart, arrives in town. Two escaped felons, Rob Z. Lott and Liza Lott, are rumored to be in the vicinity, just as new residents, Ben and Mia Bizzy, fortuitously open a business, installing home security systems, just in time, in seems, to ride the wave or recent robberies in the formerly peaceful town. While the local librarian, M. Balm, and constable, Mike Ondolences, busy themselves collecting clues around town, the rejected Nadia S. Richenov elects to pen a tell-all book about her affaire de coeur with the noted author, including his literary love letters, still in her possession, illustrated by none other than his son Seymour Hope.  Nadia's ruthless publisher, Paige Turner, also urges Nadia to purloin the famous portrait of the long-dead but still active writer, Olive C. Spence, from the mansion's dining room, while she is in town.

But there is another felonious pair in the neighborhood, the crooked Lott/Bizzy couple, with a sinister plan to swap the original Olive portrait for a skillful replica, and make a killing selling it to Art Smart.

It looks like partners Grumply and Spence will again have to dig up their Sherlock hats and foil some dastardly deeds, coming up with a plot for a new best-selling mystery in the process, in Kate Klise's clever latest sequel in her popular pun-filled series, 43 Cemetery Road, titled Greetings from the Graveyard (43 Old Cemetery Road) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

For kids who like their mysteries well-laced with drop-dead funny funereal wordplay, there is no alternative to Kate Klise's dazzling display of deadly double entendres. With characters like robbery victim Shirley U. Jest, Dr. Izzy Dedyet, and Olive's recently, er, revived butler T. Leeves, there are puns aplenty to keep the pages turning as the mystery gets solved and conflicts duly laid to rest in this new installment for literary-leaning elementary readers. Sarah Klise's appropriately comic pen-and-ink pictures illustrate the text, told entirely in letters, making this both a masterful middle-reader mystery and an excellent example of the epistolary tale.

For more reviews of Kate Klise's craft, see my reviews here.

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