4th July: Summer Murder on Long Island

How to Marry a Ghost by Hope McIntyre

published 2007 

A tiny portion of the area housed Martha’s own clothes in a built-in closet and a chest of drawers, while the rest of the room was given over to racks, the kind they use in the garment districts to wheel clothes up and down streets. And hanging from them, encased in transparent plastic covers blurring the sight of them, and rendering them as lines of girlish wraiths, were wedding dresses. There must have been at last fifty, and they spooked me because they looked like an assembly of reproachful brides who had been put in storage and forgotten.

“Aren’t they just the most beautiful things you have ever seen?” Martha plunged into them, unzipping the covers and fingering the lace or the satin or the silk. “So your mother got married in a short dress. Makes a change…”

observations: It's Independence Day, the big American summer holiday, so here's a seasonal book with a nice theme of murder on an American beach.

Martha – the Miss Havisham of the book – finds a short wedding dress worthy of comment. That’s something we looked at before, in two early blog entries – Pursuit of Love and Earthly Powers. “Think of your poor old dead legs sticking out” as Jassy says – a sentence that was one of the inspirations for Clothes in Books.

Another unsettling marital touch in the book: the dead body of a young man has been found dressed in an elaborate wedding dress – ‘white taffeta and gold brocade over layers of tulle.’

This is the second of a series, detective stories featuring a female ghost writer who gets caught up in crimes. It’s a good concept – there’s a reason she’s on the spot with the crimes, and in this particular case a key player is an ancient rockstar with an involved backstory. The setting, on Long Island, is very well-done and evocative, and there are some very interesting discussions on the differences between US and UK language – Lee, the heroine, uses a flashlight but goes to the loo…

For those of us who like detective stories, well, it’s just the kind of thing we like. Particularly having a a sharp, interesting heroine, even if some of her emotions are hard to understand or sympathize with. And she needs to start carrying her mobile phone round with her – it seems a lame getout to have her forget it, authors need to think up some better excuses to remove their characters from communication methods.

I guessed half the solution, but the other half was a surprise, and I did enjoy the details of people’s lives.

Links on the blog: Last year's American summer-y book for 4th July was actually called Independence Day. More brides and wedding dresses: click on the label below.

The second photo above, ideal for this excerpt, was one used for last year’s blog entry on The Hunger Games trilogy (of all unlikely books to place it with).

Both photos are by PerryPhotography, featuring dresses by the Italian designer De Cesari.


  1. Moira - I couldn't agree more about the need to keep track of one's mobile 'phone. I have to admit I get a bit tired of that one... But the rest? A great choice, so thanks. Only...I have to say I chose a long wedding gown.

  2. I'm sure authors can come up with something better if they try! My dress was mid-calf-length, which I was very happy with...


Post a Comment