Friday, November 3, 2017

Ghost of a Chance: Review

The husband and wife team of William Roos and Audrey Kelley, writing as Kelley Roos, gave the mystery world one of several husband and wife teams. Jeff and Haila Troy join the ranks that include Nick & Nora Charles, Pam & Jerry North, Tommy & Tuppence Beresford, Pat & Jean Abbot, among others. The Troy stories are told from Haila's point of view--which offers the reader her hilarious inner monologues and running commentary on everything from her husband and married life to her thoughts on detective work in general. As with the previous two novels I've read by Roos, I enjoy the Troys' wit and interactions much more than that of the Abbots. Jean Abbot is much more insecure and her comments come across as jealous rather than playful when she notices Pat noticing other women. But the Troys are not quite the sophisticated New York couple that Pam & Jerry North are. 

Ghost of a Chance (1947) is the sixth novel in the Troy series. Jeff and Haila have made a bit of a name for themselves in the amateur detecting business. Not that they're trying to...but they just keep getting mixed up in these things. They're spending a nice "quiet" evening at home listening to Haila's Aunt Ellie talk about everything and anything nonstop during her first ever visit to the big city when Jeff gets a phone call from Frank Lorimer, a perfect stranger, who wants to meet up with Jeff in a bar to tell him all about the lady he (Frank) knows who's about to get herself killed. 

Of course, Haila wouldn't miss another mystery for anything and soon she and Jeff are traipsing all over New York City in the middle of a snow storm trying to meet up with Frank who keeps leaving messages that he's being watched and needs them to meet him at a different bar. Well, naturally, Frank gets himself bumped off and the rest of the story focuses on Jeff and Haila picking up the meager threads he left behind to piece together who the lady is and why someone wants to kill her.

Good banter for entertainment and the couple do make a nice detecting team. Roos generally sprinkles clues liberally throughout their books, thought this particular outing ranges a little more on the thriller side with all the chasing about town. It also stretches one's belief a bit that just about everyone they meet seems to be in this giant conspiracy to murder one woman. Still, it is great fun and the book is worth price of admission for the section where Haila devises a disguise in order to confuse the baddie who is trailing her and then turns the tables and follows him in her new persona. And then when she goes to meet Jeff in the lobby of a ritzy hotel the house detective tries to hustle her out for toning down the place:

I gasped. If I hadn't gathered what the man meant, the mirror on the wall across the lobby would have told me. I still had on my snazzy Harlequins. The two spots of red stood out on my check like two red lamps. My painted mouth seemed to be saying, "C'mon up, big boy." And my high, high heels and sable coat were exactly what one of the girls would save for a week to buy....I didn't look cute and pixie as I had thought. I looked  like the newest apprentice in the oldest profession in the world.

Even Jeff doesn't recognize her right away. ★★

[Finished on 10/28/17]

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