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Review: Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella

Laura Spinella is an East Coast author, originally from Long Island, New York. She pursued her undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Georgia. The southern locale provided the inspiration for her first novel, Beautiful Disaster, which garnered multiple awards, including a Romance Writers of America RITA nomination.

Ghost Gifts is Laura’s third novel in the romantic fiction classification and while there is nothing inherently wrong with romantic fiction, this book is so much more. The story of Aubrey Ellis can be classified as paranormal fiction and could also be considered a thriller. The book is well-written and captures the reader’s interest from the very first chapter. The author skillfully weaves the past and the present into a cohesive story that culminates with a surprise twist.

Aubrey Ellis, a medium from birth, has lived with her grandmother from the time of her parents’ death. Charly runs a carnival that tours up and down the New England coast through the summers and winters in Florida. Aubrey meets a number of spirits as she grows up, some who are looking for her help and others who are looking to express their rage. In a unique twist, the ghosts that Aubrey encounters leave her with a small gift after their interaction. A couple of marbles, some beach sand, a postcard or perhaps faded flowers. Aubrey keeps these ‘ghost gifts’ in a keepsake box that she occasionally refers to when presented with a puzzling spirit.

The novel focuses on the murder of a young woman whose remains fall out of a wall twenty years after her disappearance. Aubrey, a reporter for the local paper, is paired with an experienced investigative reporter from another city to cover the crime. By backtracking through the evidence that convicted a drifter, Frank Delacourt, at the time of Missy’s disappearance, despite the lack of a body and interviewing everyone who gave testimony at Frank’s trial, Aubrey and Levi are able to put together a completely different accounting of the crime and its perpetrator.

The tension between Aubrey and Levi St. John as they work together to investigate and report on the grisly discovery is compelling. Both these characters, in fact, all the characters in this book, are given deep histories that help the reader identify with them, cheer for them, and/or pray that they are found guilty of murder most foul.

Ms. Spinella takes you through several reasonable scenarios as our protagonists learn more and more about the past and the people involved with Missy; so that the denouement when it comes is both exciting and satisfactory. I highly recommend this book for those looking for a weekend’s entertainment or a book to occupy your time on a flight. This is a story that you will find yourself immersed in and time will fly.

Ghost Gifts is published by Montlake Romance and is available in paperback and digital versions at Amazon. You can find Laura on her website www.lauraspinella.net.

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