Maryse’s nasty mother-in-law, the parent of Maryse’s deadbeat husband, has died, giving Maryse some freedom from the oppressive woman, when at the funeral, the dead woman, Helena, rises up from her casket and complains about her funeral in Jana DeLeon’s Trouble in Mudbug. However, no one but Maryse can see her. This unnerves Maryse all the more because as a scientist, she has stolidly opposed any possibility of the supernatural. Helena appeals to her daughter-in-law because, despite the official ruling of a natural death, she has been murdered and wants Maryse to find out who did this.
In the meantime, Maryse continues her botany work at the bayou in Mudbug, Louisiana, population 502, a bayou that, to the astonishment of Helena’s heirs, belonged to the deceased woman and has been left to Maryse. But Luke, a mysterious zoologist shows up, announcing he has been assigned to share her work space on the bayou, but he clearly has something else going on, snooping around her small office for someone. Despite her misgivings, Maryse finds herself attracted to him. But first, she has to stay alive because someone seems eager to kill her.
This book is a lot of fun, especially watching Helena learn to develop her abilities as a ghost. She goes from not knowing what is going on or where she is to learning to walk on water and eventually to passing through walls. Helena’s crazy costume changes really made me laugh. At first she doesn’t know how to change clothes at all and is stuck in the hateful link polyester dress she was buried in, but once she figures out how to change outfits, she comes up with some really bizarre outfits such as her covert operation outfit, which is described as looking like a “Michael Jackson video combined with a Saturday morning street walker” and is made of leather spandex with cat patterns on the bust and butt cheeks.
The development of the growing relationship between Maryse and Luke as they learn to respect and admire each other also is enjoyable to read. I also have to say that DeLeon writes the most intense kissing scenes I have read.
I did find a couple details a bit dubious. For a town with a population of 502, it seems strange to have a hospital. It also seems to have plenty of other stores, including a Walmart.
Johanna Parker narrates this book, adding to its delightfulness. She creates good voices for the different characters. She uses a light Southern accent, though Helena doesn’t seem to have much of an accent, which is a little curious to me, since Helena was a lifelong Mudbug resident. Parker’s performance goes a long way to making this book come to life and adds to the fun of the book.
At first, I drew back from Trouble in Mudbug because I didn’t like the paranormal element, but I’ve recently come across some other books with single ghosts that I’ve enjoyed, so I came back to give this book another try. I’m glad I did because this book was a real delight to read, and I had a good time with this book. I look forward to listening to the next book in the series and give this one five stars!
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