On a friend’s recommendation, I read two of this series back to back and found them to be great fun. I have two more signed out of the local library now and look forward to learning where they will take the story. Much of the story is told through letters and notes from which the reader can deduce most of the information needed to understand the story. Other information comes through clippings from The Ghastly Times newspaper.
It begins with a letter from Ignatius B. Grumply (an author specializing in mysteries, mayhem & the macabre) to a real estate office in California. Mr. Grumply is searching for a “quiet place to rent this summer while I finish writing my next children’s book” which he has not yet started.
In a return letter from a real estate agent, Anita Sale, Mr. Grumply receives a brochure showing six possible places which might interest him. One is the house at 43 Old Cemetery Road, a 32 1/2 room house in Ghastly, Illinois. (The Klise sisters were born in Peoria, Illinois.) You can see the house on the book cover to the left of these words.
Anita Sale tells Mr. Grumply that she would not recommend that particular house for him and she sends him some other recommendations.
Mr. Grumply particulary wants a house which will “sit at a comfortable distance from all schools, parks, and other places where children gather. I happen to write books for children. That doesn’t mean that I want to see or hear the little monsters when I am trying to work.”
Ms. Sale’s return letters do not get to Mr. Grumply in time and his agent signs a rental contract as he has been instructed to do by Mr. Grumply. And so, to make a long story shorter, Mr. Grumply goes to Ghastly and moves into the house at 43 Old Cemetery Road. It isn’t long before he sends a letter of complaint to Ms. Anita Sale in which he writes: “There is a serious problem with the house I’ve rented. A young boy is living on the third floor.” And then this: “Also, there is a cat in the house. I am highly allergic to cats. The cat must be removed, too.”
Ms. Sale responds by siting one of the clauses in the rental agreement:
“CLAUSE 102 (a): Seymour Hope will be allowed to remain at 43 Old Cemetery Road. Whoever rents the property will care for Seymour and his cat, Shadow, for the duration of the rental agreement, and return them both in healthy condition to Les and Diane Hope, if they so request.”
How will it all turn out? It’s great fun finding out.
The adventure continues in the second book, Over My Dead Body. Whose dead body you ask?
A villain enters the picture in this book: a villain named Dick Tater who is the director of the International Movement for the Safety & Protection of Our Kids & Youth(IMSPOOKY) who has ordered an investigation into the safety of Seymour Hope.
On his weekly radio and television broadcast, Tater says “It’s a scam, a hoax, and an outrage! Thank goodness I’m on the case.” He claims that Grumply is forcing Seymour to draw pictures for a book which a ghost is helping him to write.
Things go from bad to worse and Mr. Grumply and Seymour are both taken away: Mr. Grumply to the Illinois Home for the Deranged and Seymour to the Ghastly Orphanage. Will they ever get out? If so, how?
The second book begins with a very good summary of what happened in Book One which would be very helpful to anyone who hadn’t realized there was a book before this one and even helps readers of Book One to recall quickly the details of what happened in Book Two. It is also fun to try and figure out whose dead body is being referred to in the title.
Book Three is called Till Death Do Us Bark and the barking it seems is done by a dog named Secret who follows Seymour home from the library. Book Four is The Phantom of the Post Office and it has a new character whose name is Wy Fye who is a phantom expert and whose actual name is Wynonna Fye! I love the names in this book: it’s such fun to make up more of one’s own! The whole series addresses the roles of technology and of books and of writing good old fashioned letters.
Highly recommended for grannies and grandchildren who like mysteries, ghost stories, cats and old Victorian mansions.