Judith D Collins
The Guests on South Battery
By: Karen White
Tradd Street #5
Publication Date: 1/10/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away... With her extended maternity leave at it’s end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for over a year are about to invade her life once more. But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell it as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission. Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to appear to her again. One is shrouded from sight, appearing whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in her backyard on Tradd Street. Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried...
A special thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The queen of the South, Karen White returns following Flight Patterns (2016) landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 list and (2014) Return to Tradd Street (Tradd Street, #4) with the continuation THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY (#5) with more mystery, history, spirits, a twist of paranormal and dark family secrets.
"There is always a way to look past the bad to see the good." Set in the Holy City - historic Charleston, SC, we pick up from the last book with Melanie (Middleton) and Jack Trenholm, settling into marriage with a busy lifestyle and twins, Sarah and JJ (Jack, Jr), and Jack’s daughter, Nola, a sophomore at Ashley Hall. Nola is also interested in a boy named Cooper which Jack must warm up to. They are the owners of a historic home on Tradd Street (an interesting story from previous books), with its quirks and their dogs. The restless dead had left her along for almost a year as Melanie settled into her new life as wife and mother without the distraction of spirits needing her for something. Jack is a bestselling author (charming, funny, and irresistible) and Melanie, a successful Realtor, is returning to work after her maternity leave. They are coming up on their first year as parents. Melanie is having a hard time finding and keeping a nanny since she likes things a certain way with her routines. This has been the reason she has been delayed getting back to work, much later than she planned. Melanie’s first day back, feeling a bit insecure, not having lost all the baby weight, she lands a new client, Jayne Smith from Alabama, who has recently inherited a prominent historic home, the Pinckney mansion. Being an orphan, she is not related to the owner and hates old homes and has never been to Charleston. She wants Melanie to sell it and find her a new one. Something fresh and new with lots of metal, glass, and stone. Ironically, she is a qualified nanny and does not mind Melanie’s attention to order and details. A match made in heaven. However, Jayne is not so sure she wants to move into Melanie and Jack’s house since it is also old and historic until she decides about her own living arrangements. However, she soon learns it feels like a home and feels comfortable there. Melanie and her mom (both with psychic gifts) decide they want to try and discover the past of the house, to warn off the spirits for Jayne to possibly decide to hold on to the home since there was a lot of history. After all, it was on South Battery near the corner of Legare, a huge white house with the portico and columns. Button Pinckney was an acquaintance of Melanie’s and a good friend of both her mother and mother-in-law. They all went to school at Ashley Hall years ago, and her mom had attended the funeral. Why would Jayne inherit a home from a stranger? Jayne was raised in the foster care system and was never adopted. Melanie liked her and wants to help. If they can warn off and rid the house of spirits, evil, and ghosts- maybe Jayne will decide to keep the house. Melanie had a flash of déjà vu, since a man Vanderhorst had left her his crumbling old home that she did not want or need either, not so long ago. She knows all too well about an albatross of a house left to an unsuspecting stranger. We meet up with Dr. Sophie Wallen-Arasi, professor of historic preservation at the College of Charleston, and Melanie’s mom, Ginette, as well as Melanie’s annoying cousin and Jack’s ex-girlfriend, Rebecca—plus her husband, Marc Longo who stole Jack’s book idea, the story of a disappearance and a murder that occurred in the twenties in her house and made it into a runaway bestseller (with Jack being dropped by his publisher as a result). An ongoing mystery of the Pickney house. Button never married. She had an older brother-Sumter. He married Anna, another classmate and they had a daughter. She died when she was a child. Anna and Sumter divorced shortly afterward and Anna remained in the house with Button. She died about ten years later. Sumter never remarried and moved to New York after his divorce. Melanie’s parents have recently remarried and have a good relationship. In the meantime, Melanie lets her old insecurities get in the way making her jump to the wrong conclusions. We also meet up with Detective Thomas Riley and he helps Melanie run a background check on Jayne for the nanny job and he seems to like Jayne. Melanie and Ginette are curious why a generous philanthropist decided to give her entire estate to a deserving orphan. However, Melanie and Ginette get more than they bargained for with ghosts of the past at the old Pickney mansion. From chilling spirits, haunting ghosts, a cat, a disturbing antique doll, a hanging, a past mental illness, warnings to go away, and desperate cries of help— Jayne, Melanie, and Jayne may have more in common than they may know.
Under the mold, falling plaster, spirits of the past, and its sadness, they soon realize there must have been happiness before the tragedy within the walls. It may be worth the chance of a new beginning. Houses are like people. They deserve a second chance at happiness. Old secrets which have been buried, all come to the surface. A decades-old mystery to be solved with a shocking conclusion. As always, Karen White is multi-talented, combining the writing of southern women’s fiction, mystery, suspense, paranormal, romance, literary, and historical, crossing many genres. Always love her tales of Charleston and the dark family secrets of the South. I especially loved the reference to Wendy Wax (very cool) —another favorite. Charleston is such a beautiful city with its historic architecture, and always love catching up with familiar landmarks. Well-crafted and engaging. An intriguing twisty mystery with paranormal elements, enjoy catching up with familiar characters. I enjoy Jack and Melanie’s relationship and the dramas of their lives. If you love history, southern fiction, and ghost stories you will enjoy the series. Having read and enjoyed all the books in the series, highly recommend them all! In addition to the reading copy, also listened to the audio version (nicely done as always), narrated by Aimée Bruneau, with a charming southern accent. Looking forward to the next! Hoping to hear more about Jayne's mysterious past.
Hoping to hear more about Jayne's mysterious past.
Cannot wait for The Night the Lights Went Out (cover love), Coming April 11, 2017.
About the Author
After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including the SIBA (Southeastern Booksellers Alliance) Fiction Book of the Year, and has twice won the National Readers’ Choice Award.
Karen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. Her twentieth novel, Flight Patterns, was published in May 2016 by Berkley Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House Publishing Group.
Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. When not writing, she spends her time reading, scrapbooking, playing piano, and avoiding cooking.
She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children, and two spoiled Havanese dogs. Read More