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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
“Bad News for a Ghost” by Jim Guigli is touted as being a "Bart Lasiter Mystery", implying there are or will be more 'Bart Lasiter Mysteries'. Bart Lasiter is a barely-scraping-by private investigator, formerly associated with the Berkeley Police Department, currently working out of a low-rent, cramped office/studio in Old Sacramento. In this novelette Lasiter is approached by the better-than-perfect TV newscaster, Marti Planker, to assist her in bringing closure to a string of antique store burglaries popularly believed to be committed by a ghost. Of course, it was Marti Planker who has pushed the “ghost” angle on-air, and she wants to get credit for solving the crime spree, since the police can’t seem to do it. She offers Lasiter $300 of her own money to track down the “ghost” for her, all the while insinuating there may be some more personal bonuses for Lasiter if he takes the case. Lasiter owes everybody money, so he takes the case, even though he knows better than to believe in ghosts. So who is burglarizing the antique stores, if it is not a ghost? Why do so many witnesses describe the culprit as being a ghost? Will Marti come through with her promise to give all the glory and fame to Lasiter, once the case is solved?
This story involves a classic down-on-his-luck, ex-cop private eye, a gorgeous, angelic client with just a hint of things to come, and a string of petty crimes the police can’t allot sufficient time to. Lasiter would have been played by Humphrey Bogart, if this story had been written quite a bit earlier, and made into a movie. While reading it, it is almost impossible to NOT picture Lasiter with Bogart’s face and voice. This story is entertaining, if a bit predictable. Still, there is nothing wrong with being a little predictable if the story is a good one, and this story is a good one. There are certainly some unexpected twists to this tale, which only add to its overall appeal. If you enjoy private eye tales, particularly of shorter duration, you will love “Bad News for a Ghost”. It truly is a pleasurable read. As an added bonus, the author includes a short story, 'Bart’s First Arrest', at the end of the book. How can you go wrong?