Abigail Timberlake Washburn would rather be anywhere else on a muggy Charleston summer evening even putting in extra hours at her antiques shop than at a séance. But her best friend, "Calamity Jane," thinks a spirit or "Apparition American," as ectoplasmically-correct Abby puts it lurks in the eighteenth-century Georgian mansion, complete with priceless, seventeenth-century Portuguese kitchen tiles, that C.J. just bought as a fixer-upper. Luckily, Abby's mama located a psychic in the yellow pages a certain Madame Woo-Woo and, together with a motley group of feisty retirees known as the "Heavenly Hustlers," they all get down to give an unwanted spook the heave-ho. But, for all her extrasensory abilities, the Madame didn't foresee that she, herself, would be forced over to the other side prematurely. Suddenly Abby fears there's more than a specter haunting C.J. And they’d better exorcise a flesh-and-blood killer fast before the recently departed Woo-Woo gets company.
About the Author
Tamar Myers is the author of the Belgian Congo series and the Den of Antiquity series as well as the Pennsylvania-Dutch mysteries. Born and raised in the Congo, she lives in North Carolina.
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Tiles and Tribulations
My best friend., C.J., is deathly afraid of Apparition Americans. Unfortunately, her not-so-new house on Rutledge Avenue has at least one very vocal semitransparent resident. I told C.J. to expect spirit lingerers when buying a two-hundred-year-old Charleston mansion, but no, the big gal wouldn't listen.
Since I had warned her, I didn't feel it was my responsibility to attend the silly séance she had planned. It's not that I don't believe in Apparition Americans -- I do. My own house is haunted, in fact. But mine is a benign presence who contents himself with jangling a bunch of keys and pacing up and down my long, narrow upstairs hallway. C.J.'s unwelcome tenant, on the other hand, wails like the banshee she might well be, and once she even touched C.J. with hands as cold as Popsicles.
So intimidating is C.J.'s spirit, that my friend has had a devil of a time getting a contractor to do some necessary remodeling. Three burly men have quit in the time it takes to change a light bulb, much less re-vamp a nineteen forties style kitchen. But the really strange thing is that, since the last workman ran off the job -- leaving his tool belt behind -- the ghost has taken on the remodeling job herself. I know this sounds bizarre, but C.J. swears it's true. She claims she comes home from work and finds wallboard replaced, paint scraped, tiles caulked, you name it. So far the repairs are remarkably like the ones C.J. wanted the contractor to do, although this has done nothing to ameliorate C.J.'s terror.
At any rate, my objection to the séance had to do with the fact that it was to be conducted, not by someproven expert in the field of the paranormal, but by Madame Woo-Woo. She was a self-styled psychic whose name C.J. had gotten from my mother, who found it advertised in the Yellow Pages. Madame Woo-Woo's ad claimed she was the expert in convincing confused Apparition Americans that their jobs on the earth were over, and it was time for them to return to the spirit realm. Madame Woo-Woo claimed a ninety-nine point nine percent success rate, and even offered a money back guarantee. At the prices she charged, she should have given her customers gold plaques certifying that their houses were hant-free, as politically incorrect locals might say.
I wouldn't even have been a part of the Madame Woo-Woo brouhaha, were it not for the fact that the medium had demanded that there be nine warm bodies at the séance, besides her own. She claimed it had something to do with numerology, but frankly, I suspected the woman was after more clients. Besides, it was the last night of Survivor IV, and I just had to see who won the million dollars. Yes, I know, I could have taped it, but it just isn't the same thing. Ask any sports enthusiast.
You can imagine my irritation then, when my mother called me at work to put the screws to me.
"Mama," I said, trying to keep in mind the thirty-six hours of agonizing labor she endured to produce me, "I am not going to the séance, and that's final."
"Are you afraid, Abby? Is that the problem, dear?"
"Of course I'm not afraid!"
"Abby, darling," Mama said, pouring on the sugar, "C.J. is your best friend. She needs you."
"Mama, the Woo-Woo woman says there has to be nine of us, besides her. Whether or not I show up is a moot point."
"What was that, dear? Did you say something about mooing?"
"Moot," I said as mutely as I could. I own The Den of Antiquity, a thriving antique business on King Street, in Charleston, South Carolina. The aforementioned C.J., besides being my best friend, is my employee. At the moment she was standing just a few yards away, closing a sale on an eighteenth-century highboy.
"Well, it might not be such a moot point after all, Abby, because I've found six others, besides you and I and C.J. We're good to go."
"What six others?"
"Well for one, there is the real estate agent who sold C.J. the house. Since he didn't warn her about the ghost, he has a responsibility to be there, don't you think?"
"I'll buy that. Who are the remaining five?"
"The Heavenly Hustlers."
"What the hell is the Heavenly Hustlers?" I braced myself for Mama's answer. Last year she ran off to be a nun -- they wouldn't accept her -- and dated a gigolo named Stan. With her track record, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Heavenly Hustlers turned out to be proselytizing prostitutes.
"Oh, Abby, don't you ever listen to a word I say?"
"Occasionally. But I don't remember anything about Heavenly Hustlers. Mama, you haven't gotten yourself tangled up with some kind of cult, have you?"
"The Hustlers," Mama huffed, "are a group of retired folk, like myself, who aren't content to sit on their duffs all day and twiddle their thumbs. Or do nothing but watch TV. We go to lectures, art exhibits, you name it. Last month we took a basket-weaving class from one of the Gullah women who sells those sweetgrass baskets at The Market. Next week we're driving up together to Brookgreen Gardens, near Myrtle Beach, to see the sculpture collection. In the meantime, we'd be glad to help C.J. out ...Tiles and Tribulations. Copyright © by Tamar Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When CJ wants to restore her 18th century home in charleston, murder leads Abigail in search of the killer.
Funny, light reading with many details. I have enjoyed reading Tamar Myers's books, especially the Den of Antiquity series. Once I begin, it is hard to put the book down till I have finished. You must read her books and start with the first. Bella, the Siamese (Blue Point, no less)
I read this while traveling on the train and had nothing else to do. It is mildly entertaining but not anything worth raving about.
The Den of Antiquity, a high end antique store in Charleston, South Carolina is owned and run by Abigail Timberlake, a woman who spends more time on homicide investigations than she does managing her business. Her co-worker and close friend C.J. persuades Abigail to attend a séance at her house so they can exorcise the ghost that haunts it. Abigail, with her mother and her friends arrive at Cid¿s house when she spots a tape recorder under the table. The medium, Madame Woo-Woo put it there the day before as part of her scam. When the séance begins, the so-called medium punches the button on the tape recorder and shortly thereafter dies. The police discover that someone put poison on the tape recorder and Abigail knows it is one of the people who attended the séance. Placing herself in peril, she starts her own investigation; questioning everyone who was there. Tamar Myers, the author of the Magdelena Yoder series, has written a charming cozy filled with warmth and humor. The heroine, a four foot nine dynamo goes into her sleuth mode asking intelligent questions of all the suspects while trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Her perseverance and intelligence makes her an ideal amateur sleuth. Harriet Klausner