Ghost on the Case (Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series #8)

Ghost on the Case (Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series #8)

by Carolyn G. Hart


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Bailey Ruth Raeburn is back, racing against the Heavenly clock in an all-new mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Times Two.
Bailey Ruth finds herself comforting a distraught sister when she’s sent to Adelaide, Oklahoma, on her latest mission. Susan Gilbert receives a $100,000 ransom demand for her younger sibling. When the caller wants Susan to pay a visit to her wealthy boss and take the cash from his safe, Bailey Ruth follows Susan to the home. But she finds herself in a quandary, knowing that robbery is hardly a Heavenly pursuit.
While Susan waits to hear back from the kidnappers, Bailey Ruth attempts to piece together how the criminals targeted Susan and how they know about her boss’s money. At a luncheon the previous week, Susan’s boss asked her to open the safe so all the attendees knew it was filled with cash. Could one of the rich man’s closest confidants be behind the abduction?
Bailey Ruth is positive she can use her detective skills to figure out which luncheon guest arranged the kidnapping. But an unexpected twist in the case soon has Bailey Ruth seeking a murderer who has plans to send more victims to the great beyond...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451488565
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Series: Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series , #8
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 526,788
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the New York Times bestselling author of sixty novels of mystery and suspense including the Bailey Ruth Ghost Novels and the Death on Demand Mysteries. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She has also been honored with the Amelia Award for significant contributions to the traditional mystery from Malice Domestic and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart enjoys mysteries, walking in the park, and cats.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Imagine a maple leaf tinged with red and gold drifting in air buoyant as a salty sea. That effortless lightness is as near as I can come to sharing my feeling on another lovely day in Paradise.

Do I see a startled stare? Think what you wish, but Heaven is as real as the sound of a melody or the joy of effort or the welling of love when you see your special other. There is the reality of atoms and there is the reality of spirit.

I simply wish to explain this particular moment. A brief introduction is in order.

I, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, late of Adelaide, Oklahoma, am not in hog heaven, as we used to say in Adelaide when enjoying a succulent baby back rib or holding a winning hand at bridge, but in God's Heaven. Not, I am quick to say, because of merit. Heavens no. But when our cabin cruiser sank in the Gulf during a storm and Bobby Mac and I made our way here, we were welcomed with open arms.

I shaded my eyes as I strolled on a sandy beach with Mimi, our nippy wirehaired terrier, and gentlemanly Sleuth, a gleaming black Lab. Mr. Easy, our golden retriever, bounded into the surf. Ahead an umbrella shaded two beach chairs. Bobby Mac, my tarpon-seeking husband, was out in the bay in Serendipity, our cabin cruiser. Curled next to my chair were Spoofer One and Two and Three and Four. We always called our cats Spoofer. Now they have various nicknames, Mama Spoo, Spoof, S. G. (Spoofer Grande), and S. P. (Spoofer Primus). The cats, instinctively attuned to our thoughts, knew my destination and arrived to relax comfortably until I reached them.

I detect skepticism. I am aware that some on earth darkly say, "Don't expect to see your dogs and cats in Heaven." I can state declaratively (I once taught English) that this claim is false and cruel. Dogs, cats, llamas, goats, parakeets, animal friends of whatever persuasion, are here. Saint Francis wouldn't have it any other way. As he prayed, "Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures." And talk about creatures! I saw Saint Francis recently with a goldfinch on one shoulder, a rabbit hopping nearby, and- Oh, I forgot. According to the Precepts for Earthly Visitation, I'm not supposed to share everything I know about Heaven.

Perhaps my realization that I was being a bit too forthcoming about my surroundings accounts for my summons from Wiggins. It is my honor to work for Heaven's Department of Good Intentions, and Paul Wiggins is my supervisor. Wiggins, as he prefers to be addressed, dispatches emissaries from Heaven to help those in trouble, and each emissary is charged to reticence about Heavenly ways. After all, each soul's day will come when all will be known.

Or perhaps the paperback book tucked in my beach bag caught Wiggins's attention. I enjoy Dickens and Trollope and Galsworthy, Emily Bront‘, Pearl Buck, and Theodore Dreiser, all suitable to peruse in an English class. But beach reading? Give me a good Erle Stanley Gardner, Brett Halliday, or Donald Hamilton while I wiggle my toes in the sand. The '30s, '40s, and '50s were the heyday of the private-eye novel with a fifth of rye (preferred by John J. Malone) in the bottom desk drawer and a come-hither blonde in the shadows (present in ninety-nine point nine percent of tough-guy books).

In any event, one moment I was heading for a lazy day with a fast-paced hard-boiled novel and the next I was reading a telegram from Wiggins. Wiggins is a man of his time. Telegrams heralded important news in the early twentieth century. Black letters streamed on a flimsy yellow sheet: In a dilemma. Little choice. Please hasten for consultation.

"Yoo-hoo." Not dignified but I was ecstatic. My shout reached Bobby Mac. He looked toward the shore. His midnight black hair gleamed in the sun. He is stocky and powerful, as handsome now as when he was a senior and I was a sophomore and he told me firmly that he was taking me to the prom. We've been dancing together ever since. His hand lifted in a generous farewell wave that said: That's my gal. Go do your stuff. Nobody takes care of business like you do. What a man. Always on my side. And vice versa. That's the secret to a happy marriage.

One of Heaven's charms is the ability to go from here to there as quick as a thought. Picture your destination, you are there. I quickly changed from a one-piece swimsuit, the Esther Williams style is my preference, and fetching Hawaiian cover-up and white sandals, to a suitable costume to visit the Department of Good Intentions. Wiggins admires modesty. I keep up with earth's fashions. Wiggins would be most approving of the new style of longer skirts. I could dress appropriately and yet feel quite swanky. A blue box-top blouse with cute cap sleeves and an almost ankle-length slim knit skirt made me feel like a model. Tall heels with a beaded strap and open toes were a perfect match. Choose your costume. Dress is our choice and is subject to any whim. If I am in an elegant Bergdorf black dress mood, presto. If I prefer a subdued tweed suit and a silk blouse with pearls and sensible heels, presto. Paradise affords joy for fashionistas.

The heels rat-a-tatted as I hurried up the steps. On earth Wiggins ran a country train station. He had re-created his station to serve as the departure point for the gleaming Rescue Express that rumbles on silver rails to carry emissaries to earth.

I burst through the waiting room and into his office, which overlooks the platform. Wiggins strode toward me, big hand outstretched. Wiggins's florid face looked perplexed. His reddish brows were drawn in a worried frown. His walrus mustache seemed to quiver with uncertainty. "Bailey Ruth." He came to a full stop. On his desk the telegraph sounder clattered.

"I'm here," I said brightly. "Ready to go."

He did not appear reassured. His frown deepened. "I need a skilled detective. C. Auguste Dupin. Sherlock Holmes. Allan Pinkerton."

I was familiar with the authors Wiggins enjoyed. Obviously Wiggins sought ratiocination. Well, I can ratiocinate with the best of them. My turn for a full stop. Heaven compels honesty. Perhaps my claim was an exaggeration. Okay. I'm no equal to his heroes. But I didn't spend all my time as an English teacher reading Ivanhoe and A Tale of Two Cities (though my heart will always belong to Charles Darnay). A copy of Brett Halliday's Bodies Are Where You Find Them sprouted in my hand, a red-haired man leaning forward to support the body of a blonde on the cover. The all-cap title in stark black letters ran down the right side of the cover.

I thrust the book at Wiggins. "I've read them all." It pleased me that Mike Shayne, the Miami PI, was a redhead. I considered that a good omen. I fluffed my own shining red curls. For the record, I'm five foot five of energy and enthusiasm with curious green eyes in a skinny freckled face. Since in Heaven we can be what we wish to be, I chose myself at twenty-seven. It was a very good year.

Wiggins held the paperback in his hand, looked down. Clearly he found the cover a trifle shocking.

I hastened to explain. "Mike Shayne outfoxed the bad guys. Simple. Direct. No b-" I started to say bull but feared Wiggins might find the term unladylike. "-boring diversions. Give Shayne a problem and he waded right in. He figured out who was pulling the strings, tracked down the bad guys. What he did, I can do."

The telegraph sounder clacked louder. Wiggins shoved his rounded stiff blue cap with its black brim to the back of a thick shock of russet hair and strode to his desk, looked down. When he faced me, his kind face held despair. "Susan loves her little sister. She'll risk everything. I don't see any way out. An impossible situation. But"-his gaze was imploring-"you always do your best."

I stood a little taller, was tempted to salute.

In two long steps he was at the cabinet with tickets in slots. He reached up, grabbed a red ticket.

A rumble of wheels announced the arrival of the Rescue Express. The deep-throated whoo was a clarion call. The telegraph sounder clattered at a frantic pace.

Wiggins hurried to his desk, stamped the ticket, held it out for me.

I grabbed the red piece of cardboard.

A final shout as I headed for the platform, "Try to remain invisible."

"I will." I meant every word of the brave declaration. This time I would make every effort to be unseen, which is the preferred mode of Wiggins's emissaries. Emissaries have the ability to appear in earthly form. We arrive, of course, unseen. However, if we wish to be present, we simply think Appear. When it is better to be unseen, we think Disappear. There was one time, I remember my sense of panic, when I lost my ability to disappear. That was a challenge. Being able to appear and disappear is terrific. I suppressed a squiggle of eagerness. I sometimes-oh well, let me be frank-I often feel that I can better assist my charge if I am actually on the earth. This time I would try hard to curb that instinct.

I clutched the red piece of cardboard. I didn't need to look at my destination. I was on my way to Adelaide, my old hometown in the rolling hills of east central Oklahoma. On the platform, I rushed to climb aboard, welcomed the conductor's boost. As the Rescue Express began to roll, I didn't try to suppress my excitement. Wiggins was sending me into an Impossible Situation that required the skills-and toughness?-of a private eye. Move over Mike Shayne. Bailey Ruth Raeburn is on the case.

She was perhaps my height, about five foot five. Ebony black hair framed a face with character, deep-set intelligent eyes, high cheekbones, determined chin. She wasnÕt conventionally pretty. Hers was an interesting face, shapely black brows, a high forehead, rather thin nose, a generous mouth. She looked like a tennis player or golfer with an aura of easy movement, of quickness. I liked her indigo wool sweater with alternating lines of gold and rose in a zigzag pattern above black wool slacks and indigo leather flats. She stood stiffly in the center of a small living room, a very ordinary room not suited for high drama. A leather shoulder bag was tossed on the seat of a worn wooden rocking chair. Two easy chairs, one with plaid upholstery, the other a nondescript tan, were unoccupied. Library books were scattered on a coffee table, a biography of Douglas MacArthur, Lives of the Poets by Samuel Johnson, a thriller by Hank Phillippi Ryan, a collection of e. e. cummings poetry. An inexpensive grandfather clock near the front door ticked loudly.


A comfortable room except for the stricken young woman, her face the color of putty, the hand holding a cell phone shaking. "Please"-her voice was uneven, scarcely more than a whisper-"you won't hurt her?" The cell phone was pressed against her face. "Where is she? . . . A hundred . . ." Her left hand rose to her throat. "I don't have that kind of money. I don't have a key. I can't-" She began to shiver. "I can't do that."

She moved unsteadily to the sofa, dropped down, braced herself against the armrest, the phone still hard against her face. A voice was speaking to her, a voice was telling her something that drained her youthful body of strength. "I can't-" Her shoulders drew tight as if in defense. "Tonight? He's having a party. How-" She broke off. Perhaps her caller had interrupted, told her to listen, told her she had no choice.

I knew when the call ended. Her hand, her still shaking hard, came away from her face. She stared down at the cell phone, touched the screen, touched again, likely calling a Favorite number. Her trembling hand held the phone close. She listened, then her shoulders slumped. Clearly her call had not been answered and she was being invited to leave a message. Her voice frantic, she cried, "Sylvie, call me. Tell me you're all right. Please." A tap. She stared down at the phone, as if willing her message to be heard. She rose, slipped the phone into the pocket of her slacks. She stood indecisively for a moment, then hurried across the room. She stepped into a narrow hall, passed one room. She stopped at a closed door to a second room. She turned the knob, reached for the light switch.

I blinked as the light revealed a strikingly different milieu. Nothing shabby and worn here, though the furnishings were inexpensive: bright white furniture, a dresser, a chest, a bed with a red satin coverlet. A lop-eared teddy bear with a missing eye sat in an angular metal chair on a fluorescent-bright orange cushion. On the dresser every inch of space was crowded with bottles of perfume and lotions. Heaps of clothes dotted the floor. I had a feeling that the room's inhabitant arrived with armloads of clean laundry and carelessly deposited them wherever, a mound of jeans here, a tangle of panties and bras there, cotton tees loosely strewn on a fuzzy throw rug. It might have been just a messy bedroom except for the watercolors tacked to every bit of free wall space. The work was amateurish, but oh, what a feast of color, magenta, cobalt, royal blue. The paintings weren't simply splashes of color but almost childlike evocations of sunrises, parrots, maple leaves, a football jersey, a yellow brick road rising to the sky, and a huge red question mark surrounded by happy faces.

Happy faces, a happy room. I didn't know the occupant, but the casual disorderliness and vibrant watercolors suggested warmth and originality and unquenchable eagerness.

"Sylvie. Oh, Silly, Silly." The words were a cry of heartbreak from the woman who clung to the doorframe. Her gaze swept the careless, chaotic room. Then she drew in a sharp breath. She darted to the dresser, reached out among the bottles of lotions and sprays and jars of cream to pick up a bright red cell phone. It took only a moment, and the message she'd left on this phone played and she listened to her own voice, shaking with stress, "Sylvie, call me. Tell me you're all right. Please." Woodenly, she replaced the phone on the dresser.

I was at her shoulder when she picked up a note written in bright red crayon: Will have lots (underlined three times) to tell you tomorrow!!!!

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Ghost on the Case 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Bailey Ruth & her escapades; wish I had a Bailey Ruth watching over me... wait, maybe I do ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read. Does not require a lot of attention to the detail.
RichMann More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to read this book until long after the publication date. That's sad, because I really enjoy the adventures of Bailey Ruth. This one is as good as any of them in the series. So I won't be writing a full review. Here, however, is a sort of list of what I like about Bailey Ruth and these stories: o Bailey Ruth is smart, impulsive, and inventive. o She wants to help in the worst way--and, often, due to her impulsivity, her attempts are the worst way to get the job done under the rules she's supposed to working under. o There are evil people in these stories and murders and such, but somehow the bulk of the story is happy, fun, and upbeat. We don't get our noses rubbed in evil and depravity. I like that. (I know, that's part of the definition of a cozy mystery, but this series is even better at it that most cozies.) o The complexity and subtlety of the mystery is not overwhelming, but at the same time, the author doesn't really give anything away. The solutions at the end are satisfying. (I'm not one who works hard to figure out the killer; I enjoy just waiting to the story to work its way to the end. If I DO guess the killer, then my respect for the author declines. I shouldn't be able to guess the killer without even trying or even wanting to.) o The supernatural part--Bailey Ruth is an angel of sorts--is present, but not overwhelming. We just get the premise that she's an angel who works in a celestial department that helps the living with bad problems and the department has rules that she often breaks. Given that, the story works through to a solution without a lot of foolishness adding to the premise. So, go get a copy of this book (and the others in the series) and enjoy yourself.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Ghost on the Case by Carolyn Hart is the eighth book in A Bailey Ruth Ghost series. Bailey Ruth Raeburn, a heavenly emissary, is thrilled when she gets a message from her supervisor, Paul Wiggins to report to Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions. Wiggins has a new assignment for Bailey Ruth. She gets to return to Adelaide, Oklahoma (her home town) to help Susan Gilbert. Susan receives a $100,000 ransom demand for her sister, Sylvie. She is told to steal the money from her employer’s safe and wait for their return call at midnight—she never gets a call. The next morning, Susan heads to work and discovers the place crawling with police. Susan’s boss, Wilbur Fitch was found dead in his study and Susan is at the top of the suspect list. Bailey Ruth sets out to unearth who knew Susan could open the safe and why they wanted Wilbur dead. Can Bailey Ruth get Susan set back on the correct path? Ghost on the Case was an entertaining novel. Bailey Ruth is a firecracker. I enjoy her fashion sense, wit, intelligence, and determination. While Ghost on the Case is the eighth book in the series, it can be read alone. All the background details on Bailey Ruth are provided in the book. I found Ghost on the Case to be nicely written and to have a good pace. I like how Bailey Ruth works with Sam Cobb, the police chief, to solve the case. There was just the right amount of humor in Ghost on the Case. My rating for Ghost on the Case is 4 out of 5 stars. The mystery had some great elements. I wish, though, it had been a little more challenging. There was repetition of details regarding the case that I wish the author had eliminated (we do not need reminded so often). I liked how Ms. Hart included my favorite childhood restaurant (The Spaghetti Warehouse) and several wonderful novels. I will be continuing with A Bailey Ruth Ghost series. If you are looking for a light and entertaining cozy mystery, pick up a copy of Ghost on the Case.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I won a copy of this book from Goodreads giveaway. I was not required to give a favorable review. This is the first book I have read from Carolyn and I thought the writing was terrific. The whole that Heaven would send someone down to help an innocent woman prove that she hadn't done a murder that someone was trying to set her up. Other people have seen this person before and know that she is doing it for good. When Susan's boss is murdered and her sister is kidnapped on the same night it made it like she had done it to get the money out of the safe. But there were other people who knew she had access to the safe in his office. The twist and turns in this are wonderful but I love how her sister and the son of her boss stand behind her and believe she didn't do it. Just proving who did. I loved this book and look forward to reading more of this series.
LisaKsBooksReviews More than 1 year ago
Author Carolyn Hart kills it with GHOST ON THE CASE. Sometimes a series can become stale, and predictable. But in this eighth installment of the Bailey Ruth Ghost Mysteries, Hart proves she has what it takes to keep her series fresh, and readers coming back for more. Bailey Ruth is sent to her old hometown to help find a woman’s kidnapped sister. Who did it, and how did they know the woman, Susan, could get the money they demanded? Bailey Ruth plans to find out, but soon finds herself on the trail of a murderer. GHOST ON THE CASE was the most intense, and nail biting Bailey Ruth yet. There were scenes where I held my breath as things went from bad to worse. There were so many pieces of this puzzle to put together, that I finally stopped trying to play sleuth myself, and just sat back and enjoyed while I let the story played out. Wow. Brava, Carolyn Hart. Bailey Ruth fans, you’re going to love GHOST ON THE CASE!
MonnieR More than 1 year ago
Heavens to Murgatroyd: How on earth have I missed this series? For sure, it's an oversight that won't happen again. The late Bailey Ruth Raeburn is a delightful character, and I'm already looking forward to her next sleight of body experience. Bailey Ruth, you see, died in a boating accident years ago. Now, she's in Heaven, working for the Department of Good Intentions in 27-year-old form (her choice of age to remain forever and ever). She's also got impeccable fashion sense; part of the fun of the book comes as she chooses - and describes in detail - the outfit she's picked to fit each occasion. Those occasions, though, provide the real story. Her job as an Emissary for the Department takes her to earth via the Rescue Express to help those in need of investigative intervention. On terra firma, she's able to travel invisibly to and from anywhere at will as well as appear as a human being (the latter ability is frowned on by the Department except in absolute emergencies). This time out (down??), she's sent to Adelaide, Oklahoma, her old hometown. It seems a young woman named Susan Gilbert has received a phone call claiming that her younger sister Sylvie has been kidnapped - and the fee for her safe return is $100,000. Susan is far from wealthy, but as the secretary to a filthy rich businessman, she has access to the safe in which he keeps at least that much cash on hand plus a few other valuables. Aided by calls from the kidnapper telling her exactly what to do and when, Susan manages to steal the money - with the intent of confessing the theft to her boss and promixing to pay it back over time. But shortly thereafter, the businessman is found dead - murdered - and his safe is open and empty. The police investigation centers on Susan - especially when the box containing the money turns up in her car's trunk and other items from the safe are found elsewhere on her property. Bailey Ruth, of course, is convinced that Susan is innocent and being framed - and she sets out to prove it. Her efforts put her back in touch with an old friend and police officer, one of the few earthbound humans who knows who she is and what she now does for a "living" (no doubt they have a history from previous books in the series). Together, they conclude that only a handful of people who were at a party at the murdered man's home the night of the theft could have had sufficient knowledge to pull off the murder and shift the blame to Susan. But which one? And is there a ghost of a chance that Bailey Ruth will figure it out before her own boss yanks her back to her Heavenly home and Susan is charged with the murder? Ah, you'll just have to read it to get the answers to those questions. This is the perfect book (and series) to pick up when your head needs a break from psychological thrillers and heavy-duty murder mysteries. The publisher, via NetGalley, was an angel for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.