Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Return to Tradd Street by Karen White

Return to Tradd Street.  Karen White. Penguin Group (USA). January 2014. 336 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780451240590.

Melanie was shattered when she told Jack she loved him and he replied, “I’m sorry.”  Add to that misery that she responded no to his marriage proposal later, words she sorely regretted.  But Melanie won’t have anyone marry her out of pity now that she’s pregnant, with her body swelling and morning, afternoon and evening sickness overwhelming her. Add to that the baby cry she keeps hearing.  Add to that her mother, best friend Sophie, Jack and just about every other human being are now bombarding her with healthy food she finds revolting, that is when she’s hungry in between pregnancy sickness bouts!  However, her intrigue increases over the baby sounds and the fact that the bones of a newborn child have been found in the foundation of her inherited old house.  She and her Mom have  a motto from past experiences with ghosts, “We are stronger than you.” That mantra they repeat when alone or together will be tested in the near future!

Now, to confound matters, Jack and his daughter Nola have reappeared.  Jack is determined to be an endearing partner in her pregnancy and motherhood despite her rejection of marriage.  Melanie is torn between her strong feelings about him and her anger over his own rejection of her in the past.  A couple appears and they intend to contest the will that left the house to Melanie.  While the house is a definite money pit, Melanie finally resolves to fight for what is legally hers.

No spoiler alert necessary here – just be prepared to connect a baby cradle, an old baby outfit, a secret involving two or possibly three woman, and an old ghostly friend who is trying to protect Melanie and you have the makings of a thrilling mystery tale, with some gently evolving passion interspersed in the riddle crying out for a solution. The addition of a woman who specializes in South Carolina antiques and history adds a zesty, realistic twist to it all. 

Karen White’s writing skills have increased remarkably with this new novel, and that is saying quite a bit.  She knows exactly when to insert humor, pathos, and perplexing skills into a unique combination that makes for riveting and engaging reading.   Return to Tradd Street is a wonderful read to enjoy on a quiet day when you have nothing else to do – because you won’t want to put it down once you begin this ghostly journey!

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