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Ghost at Work (Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series #1)

Ghost at Work (Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series #1)

4.0 61
by Carolyn G. Hart

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Bailey Ruth Raeburn has always been great at solving mysteries. Why should a little thing like her death change anything? In fact, being dead gives her more of an opportunity to be on top of events. Bailey Ruth is delighted that her unique position as a ghost makes it possible for her to lend a helping hand, sometimes seen and sometimes not. And if anybody needs a


Bailey Ruth Raeburn has always been great at solving mysteries. Why should a little thing like her death change anything? In fact, being dead gives her more of an opportunity to be on top of events. Bailey Ruth is delighted that her unique position as a ghost makes it possible for her to lend a helping hand, sometimes seen and sometimes not. And if anybody needs a little help, it's Kathleen, the pastor's wife. There's a dead man on her porch, and once the body is discovered, the pastor is sure to become a suspect. \ \

Uncharitable people might call it meddling, but Bailey Ruth knows Kathleen needs her help! As a member of Heaven's Department of Good Intentions, Bailey Ruth goes back to earth to extricate Kathleen from a dire situation. If Bailey Ruth has to bend a few rules to help Kathleen save her family, Wiggins, her fussbudget supervisor, will make sure it all turns out right in the end. \

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A ghost turns sleuth in the intriguing first of a new series from Hart (Death on Demand), who's won Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards. When Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her husband die on their cabin cruiser during a storm, Bailey joins the heavenly host. Later, she returns to earth via the Rescue Express to her hometown of Adelaide, Okla., to help the rector's wife, Kathleen Abbott. After finding the body of a dead man on her back porch, Kathleen fears either she or her husband might be accused of the crime. Bailey Ruth helps her to move the body, inaugurating a search for the killer that proves difficult as the victim was despised by many. As Bailey Ruth uncovers more than one crime, she must contend with her own violations of the Precepts for Earthly Visitation and adjust to her powers on earth. Hart blends an enjoyable fantasy with realistic characters and an engrossing plot that's sure to charm even ardent materialists. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.\
Library Journal

What a tangled web Hart weaves for Bailey Ruth, an emissary from Heaven on a mission to help people in trouble. The body of a man is found at the rectory in Adelaide, OK. The pastor is a suspect, and his wife is Bailey Ruth's great niece. Hart, the prolific, award-winning author of the popular "Death on Demand" and Henrie O. series, launches a new paranormal cozy series. Her ghostly heroine glides through walls yet also eats solid food and solves problems for living folks. Sure to appeal to readers who enjoy gentle mysteries in the style of Elizabeth Fackler and Nancy Atherton. Here it is all too cute for words. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ7/08.]

—Jo Ann Vicarel\
Kirkus Reviews
A heaven-sent sleuth rescues a pastor's wife from a possible murder charge. Late, inquisitive redhead Bailey Ruth Raeburn may be in heaven, but she jumps at the chance to revisit earth as a helper in the Department of Good Intentions. Although she thinks Paris would be a nice place to go, she's sent to her old hometown of Adelaide, Okla., where Kathleen Abbott, the overworked pastor's harried wife, has just made an unwelcome discovery on her back porch: the body of the much disliked Daryl Murdoch, a man not above a little judicious blackmail. Bailey Ruth and Kathleen temporize by hiding the body in the nearby cemetery, but it will take a good deal of snooping and breaking departmental rules before Bailey Ruth can solve the crime. Being invisible, of course, is a big help for a sleuth who can sit in on private conversations and move from place to place in a twinkling. Because Kathleen's daughter Bayroo, who was named for Bailey Ruth, is the only one who can see her, a lot of people end up unbelievingly watching objects float in the air or disappear. The list of suspects is long-even the pastor is not above suspicion-but Bailey Ruth's special gifts give her the edge over the hardworking police chief, who's in for a big surprise. The newest sleuth from veteran Hart (Death Walked In, 2008, etc.) is a charming addition to the swelling ranks of ghostly detectives.\
Oklahoma City Oklahoman
Bailey Ruth is a lively, original heroine and a pleasure to read. Hart gets to design heaven and indulges herself in celestial fantasies. The Oklahoma City author is a master at constructing a mystery. She builds this one with finesse, suspense and humor.
Deseret News
absolutely charming...it’s that rarest of books, filled with characters who have character, both fanciful moments and genuine surprises. And there are pieces to the puzzle that are sure to catch you off guard.
Boston Globe
Hart’s version of heaven is a hoot...Bailey Ruth and Wiggins will delight readers who prefer their mysteries light and seasoned with wit and the supernatural.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series , #1
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ghost at Work

Chapter One

Incandescent dashes of pink and gold spangled the fluffy white clouds that arched over the entrance to the Department of Good Intentions. The opening was wide and welcoming. Heaven doesn't run to doors. No one is shut in. Or shut out.

If I entered, I was committing myself to an unknown adventure. Possibly. Or possibly not. Perhaps I wouldn't be considered a worthy candidate. My natural effervescence immediately bubbled, banishing that negative thought. Of course I was a worthy candidate. I love to go and do and hold out a helping hand. I was a superb candidate.

I hurried forward even though I didn't know what to expect. Unctuous solemnity? Goody Two-shoes stuffiness? Earnest exhortations? That hadn't been my experience of Heaven. Surely the Department of Good Intentions was filled with kindred spirits eager to offer a boost up to those in need.

A wash of golden light spilled out, beckoning, encouraging, welcoming. I was drawn by the warmth, yet wary of the unknown. I had felt the same conflict of anticipation and reluctance when I was a kid at the swimming hole a few miles outside of Adelaide. I remembered the dammed-up pool with shivery delight, the water deep and cold, shaded by majestic oaks. We clambered up the rope ladder to the top of a huge red rock, teetered on the sloping surface, scared yet eager, and took a flying leap. That plunge through air was as near to weightlessness as I ever knew. Until now, of course. The first jump was always the hardest. The shock of the icy water took your breath, turned your skin cold as ice. The thrill was worth the scare.

Could I, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, late ofAdelaide, Oklahoma, take the plunge now? Certainly, if I ever, within an eon or two, intended to offer my services, it was time and time past. Time and age do not exist in Heaven, but I had the sense that Bobby Mac and I had been here quite awhile. Our cabin cruiser went down in a sudden August storm in the Gulf of Mexico. I expected much had changed since we departed the earth. If I hoped to be helpful, possibly I should volunteer while I still had some memory of earthly ways.

Our arrival here had been precipitous, but, as Scripture warns, the householder knows not the appointed hour. Dark clouds had scudded toward us. Blinding rain pelted our struggling boat. Thunder crashed, lightning blazed. Serendipity, our small but sturdy cabin cruiser, capsized beneath a thirty-foot wave. I'd chosen our cruiser's name. I always felt that I was in the right place at the right time, even then. Now, that's a funny thing. I'd come close to being lost at sea when I was seven. I'd been visiting my California cousins and we'd taken the excursion boat to Catalina. Ever a daredevil, I'd scooted behind a lifeboat and hung over the edge. I lost my balance and tumbled overboard. Happily for me, a brawny seaman saw me fall and raced to the railing and climbed to the top to jump after me. I'd flailed to the surface, choked and stunned. The excursion boat faded in the distance. Happily, perhaps fatefully, the sailor kept me afloat, and not long after a sailboat ran near enough to find us. I doubt I would have survived on my own.

Maybe it was full circle that Bobby Mac and I were lost at sea. Of course, our daughter, Dil, was furious with her dad and even more furious with me for tagging along. There had been warnings of a coming storm, but Bobby Mac had lost a big tarpon the day before and he was determined to go after him again. That man was what they call a fishing fool. Still is, and he's thrilled that the tarpon have never been bigger than here in Heaven. Dear Bobby Mac, built like a bull rider with coal-black hair, flashing dark eyes, and a rollicking grin. I smiled, grateful for love that had spanned our years together and flourished still. We two were as youthful in Heaven as on the day we'd met at Adelaide's famous rodeo, Bobby Mac dust-streaked and swaggering after his event, but blessed as well in Heaven with the glorious depth of all we'd known and shared together, happiness, passion, sorrow, tears, and, always, laughter.

From my watery adventure off the coast of California to the Serendipity's demise in the Gulf of Mexico, I was convinced I'd led a charmed life, thanks to the brave sailor on the excursion boat. Now I wanted to do my bit for someone in trouble. As I understood it, the Department of Good Intentions specialized in lending a hand to those in tight spots.

I strode under the arch of clouds, as much as an ethereal figure who isn't terribly tall can stride. I'm not small, but then again I'm not large. Five foot five on a good day in slingback pumps. I glimpsed my reflection in a shining crystal wall, curly red hair, a skinny face with curious green eyes, lots of freckles. I remembered a Polaroid picture Bobby Mac had taken when I was twenty-seven at a church picnic. That's how I looked now! Heaven is full of wonderful surprises and perhaps one of the sweetest was knowing that others see me always at my best, my brightest, my happiest. Age doesn't matter. There is no old, no young. The dear children who left the earth too soon are what they were meant to be in full flower and the aged who are worn and bent and frail at death once again blossom. It was such a thrill for me to see Mama in a flapper's dress with a little tilted red hat and a glittery beaded dress and high heels, her beautiful face shining with love. In Heaven, your essence determines your appearance. You are the best you ever were and yet nothing is lost of your lifetime.

Ghost at Work
. Copyright © by Carolyn Hart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of twenty previous Death on Demand novels. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. She is also the creator of the Henrie O series, featuring a retired reporter, and the Bailey Ruth series, starring an impetuous, redheaded ghost. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart lives in Oklahoma City.

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Ghost at Work 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
momgee More than 1 year ago
While heaven is ,well, heavenly, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, late of Adelaide, OK, makes it known to Wiggins, head of the Department of Good Intentions, that she wants to help someone on earth in ¿dire straits¿. Wiggins tells her she may do so, although due to her rash, impulsive and ¿spirited¿ nature, she will be on probation and she must remember all the precepts of being a ghost among the living. With a copy of the rules firmly in hand, she is immediately dispatched right back to Adelaide to find herself on the back porch of the Episcopal Church rectory just as Kathleen, the pastor¿s wife, is discovering a dead body.

The victim, one Daryl Murdoch ,is not quite the upstanding citizen and dedicated church member he appears to be. It seems there are quite a few people who would rather have Daryl dead than alive.
Bailey Ruth now has the ability to appear when the need arises or to be invisible when she wants , a useful skill in her job to find the real murderer and absolve the pastor and his wife of any accusations because as it turns out, they too might have had a motive. As Bailey Ruth investigates the crime, the reader will laugh out loud at all of her antics while she learns to function as a ghost with a mission. Being invisible is great for moving from place to place quickly and being one step ahead of the investigation.

She begins to narrow down the suspects one by one and at the Halloween Spook Bash held at the church hall, the suspense builds when the lights go out and someone goes missing. It becomes evident to her, but certainly not to the reader, who the real culprit is. Along with a few pop-ins by Wiggins along the way, Bailey Ruth identifies the murderer and ties it all up nicely just before the rescue express sweeps into Adelaide and takes her heaven bound once again.

Hart writes a classic cozy with all the traditional elements of the genre. What she adds is her own exceptional brand of wit and humor along with a fabulous cast of well fleshed out characters. As usual, Hart has such a wonderful way with descriptions, the reader feels they are right there on the scene. The plot is well developed with plenty of suspects, all with motives to commit the crime. This is a truly enjoyable new series with non-stop fun . If you are a mystery fan, this is definitely one not to be missed ! Highly recommended.
Tracy Willis More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! It was fun and light hearted with just the right amount of twists & turns. I cant wait to read the second one.
jmansson More than 1 year ago
Carolyn Hart comes with a library of good mysteries and interesting, likeable protagonists. The kind you'd hang out with. Baily Ruth is just like that except that she's a spirit who passed on a couple of generations ago and now has the chance to come down to earth and to help the living.

A dead man lay in the foyer of the church she used to attend. It soon becomes clear that she needs to help the minister's wife, a niece in life, and starts by lending a hand (she materializes) to move the body. When that doesn't bring her back to heaven Baily Ruth realizes she'll have to help solve the murder.

Armed with her curiousity, her love of mysteries and her desire to make good, Baily Ruth makes many mistakes and worries this will be her last assignment. Okay so she likes to dress well (and when you're a ghost, excuse me spirit, that's just a thought away) and she gets hungry (that has to be come by the usual way) and she wants to see her family (that's against the rules) and she just can't seem to keep from being seen.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and the delightful storytelling of Carolyn Hart. She has a talent for taking her readers along for a ride through mystery and hayhem and Ghost at Work is no different. Hart's view of heaven is fun and comforting and a wee bit bureaucratic and what happens to a spirit who comes back to earth is highly relatable.
BookButter More than 1 year ago
The idea for book is excellent but I would have spiced it up a bit. It was boring at times and predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I ordered all 3 books in this series and was pleasantly surprised! Carolyn Hart is a sneaky and humorous author and all 3 books are very entertaining and I had to read one after the next they were so good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed reading this book. This is the type I like for summer reading. Was surprised at the ending of the mystery, which made it even better.
Cheri Garwood More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a fun read. It reminded me of the Aunt Diminity series.
tartanred More than 1 year ago
If you have read Publishers Weekly Starred Review, you understand the vast appeal of this new series. Still I cannot resist adding a few words of my own.

A dead body is discovered on the pastor's porch, of all places. Quickly, it is obvious that several suspects had strong motives for wishing the man dead, yet every one of them has an ironclad alibi.

Bailey Ruth, a ghost from Heaven's Department of Good Intentions, goes back to Earth to help solve the mystery. Some call it meddling but, no, Bailey Ruth is just incredibly effective at bending departmental rules. Menace and mirth keep readers guessing from the start to the novel's satisfying end.

Cherished author Carolyn Hart is renowned for brilliant storytelling, and in this compelling creation she charms readers with her elegantly phrased depiction of Heaven. Page 3: "Heaven is full of wonderful surprises and perhaps one of the sweetest is . . ."

Guest More than 1 year ago
While sailing off the Gulf of Mexico, Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her husband Bobby Mac die during a storm. However, instead of enjoying Heaven for eternity, Bailey, understanding the Precepts for Earthly Visitation rules as part of the Department for Good Intentions, is sent back to her hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma to help her niece Kathleen Abbott, the wife of a local rector.--------------- Kathleen found a corpse on her back porch. Instead of reporting it to the cops, Kathleen with Bailey Ruth¿s assistance moves the body to a nearby cemetery. Bailey Ruth investigates the homicide, but finds many in the town loathed the victim. Still she keeps digging although she knows when she returns to heaven she will be disciplined for violating the prime directive on visits to earth.----------- This is an entertaining paranormal amateur sleuth starring a heavenly agent who breaks the rules in order, to the ¿cardiac arrest¿ of her superior, to help those in need. The story line is lighthearted yet charming as Bailey Ruth works the case by eavesdropping though many of those conversations are unrelated to her mission she is nosy. With enough suspects to fill the choir and a bureaucracy running Heaven, fans will enjoy Carolyn Hart leaving her ¿Death on Demand¿ and Henrie O sagas to introduce her audience to a fresh fun heaven on earth detective.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Martha-A-Cheves More than 1 year ago
Ghost at Work - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat "He's dead!" Her voice was a whisper. "What am I going to do?" "Call the police." I clapped my fingers to my mouth. I hadn't intended to speak. "I can't." It was a moan. The moan turned into a strangled gasp. She looked wildly about. "Who's there? Where are you?" Skirting the body, she hurried to the back door, flung it open, clattered down the steps. In an instant she returned to the porch, dashed to the rectory back door, yanked it open, seeking the source of the voice. Bailey Ruth Raeburn is dead and living the the glories of Heaven, but there are times when an "emissary" from Heaven needs to be sent back to earth to help out those in trouble. Bailey Ruth has never had the honor of being returned to earth as an emissary so Wiggins, who is in charge of this Heavenly task, must teach her the rules and prepare her before letting her depart. Unfortunately, there is no time for preparation. In Bailey Ruth's own home town of Adelaide, someone has murdered Daryl Murdoch right on the steps of the rectory. It becomes Bailey Ruth's job as an emissary to protect Kathleen, who just happens to be the pastor's wife, and hopefully find the real killer. As Bailey Ruth approaches Kathleen, she knows that before she can help her she must first gain her trust without scaring her half to death. This isn't an easy task since Kathleen can hear Bailey Ruth but not see her. The solution to that is to appear but that is frowned upon in the Precepts, which are the rules an emissary must follow. After Bailey Ruth and Kathleen finally get a grip on the real situation, it's decided that the best thing to do is to move the body away from the rectory. And where would be a better place to deposit a dead body in the cemetery. But doing that will take some imagination from Bailey Ruth. She can't just snap her fingers and have the body moved, so she must find a mode of transportation and the wheel barrow seems to be perfect vehicle. As she and Kathleen wheel Murdoch's body to it's destination, they discover that the cemetery is occupied by a couple of teens who are attempting to remove the greyhound statue that watches over the Pritchard mausoleum. She accomplishes this by grabbing the crowbar away from one of the boys and flinging it out into the darkness. But, Kathleen has already dumped the body on the steps of the mausoleum where it's discovered by the two frightened teens. Ghost at Work is the first book written by Carolyn Hart in the Bailey Ruth series. In Ghost at Work, Bailey Ruth is an emissary in training and on probation. Following her antics as she tries to follow the rules of not appearing, speaking, nor scaring the living half to death unless completely necessary, I've found Ghost at Work to be humorous and creative. Hart's characters are not only believable but you find yourself completely wrapped up in them, not wanting the book to end. And fortunately, Bailey Ruth is carried forward in Hart's second book in the series titled Merry, Merry Ghost. I've had the enjoyment of reading both of these light hearted books and can't wait for the next. I've read many series books which spotlight the same character and have found that after a while, the character becomes predictable and over years "aged." Bailey Ruth is one character that I feel that can never happen to. After all, she is a "ghost.&a
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know who is more entertaining-Bailey Ruth or her heavenly boss Wiggins!  Both are a delightful part of a truly charming and very original series that  will warm your heart and keep you turning the pages deep into the night.  I love  the little details such as the way Bailey Ruth perceives and describes some of our modern technology, and her rueful admissions of her own weaknesses make her such an appealing character.  She's also  hilarious and it's definitely fun to be along for the ride as she cleverly resolves a complex mystery in each book in the series. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just love all of Hart's work. I get lost in her imaginative stories about my favorite character, Bailey Ruth.
dingleba1 More than 1 year ago
another great story by Bailey Ruth and will hunt for more tales from her. many turns and twists that is easy to keep up with. I have to admit that the ending took me by complete surprise. I did not see that one coming. I love a story that can do that with finness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intrigueing and funny! Loved the characters!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Be sure to read the sample before you buy the book. I wouldn't pay for anything where the first few pages were so badly written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bailey Ruth....
Mortycat More than 1 year ago
Throughly enjoyed this and look forward to the next in the series. Recently discovered C. Hart and enjoyed other books of hers very much as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book a lot but, for my taste it was just a TAD too long and some of the stuff in it could have been left out and it wouldn’t have hampered the book at all! A couple parts of it were just boring but all in all a good read! I did get the next one hoping they get better as they go along – I really like Baily Ruth Raeburn and her senior angel guide!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great read! Although you *know* that it is fiction, it makes you wonder if the author has "inside information" on what heaven is like! - seems so plausible. Loved this book!