The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Even though Melanie Middleton is a real estate agent specializing in old houses- she hates them, and much prefers the stripped down and modern look that she sports in her own austere condo. She has good reason to be wary, though she is loath to admit it to herself, Melanie sees ghosts- and we all know that often there is no better hang out spot than an old house for a unearthly presence.  Melanie tries to ignore them as best she can but a turn of events makes this near impossible.

Melanie meets with Nevin Vanderhorst, ostensibly to help him put his house on the market, but during their brief meeting Nevin comes to a decision of his own about Melanie.  When he dies a few short days later he leaves Melanie his house on Tradd Street with the provision that she restore it (with funds provided by the estate), not sell it for a year, and also live in it for that year (oh, is that all?). Let’s just say that someone in the house has other ideas.

I really enjoyed the quality of White’s writing and the heroine that she created in Melanie Middleton. Melanie’s character is well defined and we get a good sense of the woman that she has become as a result of her mother’s abandoning her as a child and her father’s alcoholism. When you combine this with the fact that she has had to hide the fact that she is able to see ghosts (even from her father) just to fit in, you can see how this would lend itself to the slightly cold, hyper controlled and organized persona she adapted as protective barrier.  Thankfully she has help from best friend-  Sophie, nosy secretary- Nancy and potential love interest and writer, JacK Trenholm, to keep her from getting too staid and set in her ways.

The House on Tradd Street is a fast paced and entertaining mystery.  Melanie finds that she is indeed invested in Nevin Vanderhorst’s home and wants to get to the bottom of  why his mother mysteriously disappeared from his life when he was just a child, and at least one ghost in the house expects this from her.  The opposites attract, prickly banter and pseudo romance with Jack was entertaining even if not original,  though both characters suffered by resorting to the juvenile when new love interest Marc Longo enters the scene.

The middle meandered with more than a few moments of implausibility but nicely rebounded for the end section as the mystery wrapped up in a way that I never expected. I like that Melanie and Jack each had issues they were working toward resolving and I was glad to see Melanie start making some progress for her own sake, if not to soothe the feelings of her errant parents. Both Melanie and Jack got under my skin and I am curious to see what progress, if any,  Melanie makes with Jack and her mother in the next book.

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