The fact that Bailey Ruth Raeburn is dead doesn't slow her down one bit. Bailey Ruth works for 'Heaven's Department of Good Intentions' which sends emissaries to Earth to help people in trouble. Bailey Ruth always means well, but she can't help breaking the 'Precepts for Earthly Visitations', which includes rules like: avoid public notice; work behind the scenes; don't show yourself to people; don't frighten people; and more. Because Bailey always breaks the rules, her heavenly
boss - Wiggins - is reluctant to give her new cases.
Thus Bailey Ruth is a little surprised when a woman on a black horse gallops up, tells the emissary she has a new assignment, and sends her to Earth on the 'Heaven-Sent Rescue Express.' Bailey Ruth thinks the woman is Wiggins' new assistant, and rides the train to her destination - a house in Adelaide, Oklahoma.
In the house, an invisible Bailey Ruth sees a young man named Nick Magruder playing the drums. She also sees a rifle barrel slipping into the window - and shoves Nick out of way just as a shot is fired. Nick is completely bewildered, so Bailey Ruth - ignoring the Precepts (as usual) - swirls into visibility to explain about his near death experience.
When Bailey Ruth can't become invisible again she realizes something is wrong. It turns out that this isn't an official assignment after all. The horsewoman who sent Bailey Ruth down to Earth is Nick's deceased Aunt Dee, who wants the emissary to help her endangered nephew. Since Wiggins knows nothing about this visit, Bailey Ruth lacks her usual abilities: she can't switch between visibility and invisibility; she can't conjure up new clothes; and she can't 'teleport' to new locations. Still, Bailey Ruth is determined to fulfill her mission, which is to ensure Nick's safety. To accomplish this, Bailey Ruth plans to 'warn off' anyone who might have a grudge against Nick.
Bailey Ruth learns that Nick recently returned to Adelaide after being paid nine million dollars for a videogame, starring spiders, that he created. Moreover, Nick came back to settle some scores. In high school, some bully boys made fun of Nick's interest in arachnids and nicknamed him Phidippus - for a spider he liked. (Phidippus' are actually cute jumping spiders.....so not such a bad nickname IMO. Ha ha ha). The worst high school offender was Cole Clanton, and Nick plans to get him back.
Cole now heads a project to re-create parts of historical Adelaide, which will attract visitors and raise funds. Cole wants to re-build a general store on the field where it once stood, but his plans are thwarted when Nick swoops in and offers to buy the field.....an offer the owner can't refuse. Bottom line: Cole won't be permitted to build his structure.
This leads to a huge fracas between Nick and Cole, and agitation among some other townsfolk - who want the project to proceed. Pretty soon someone is dead and Nick is accused of murder.
Bailey Ruth and Aunt Dee now have to work together to clear Nick's name. By this time Wiggins knows what's going on, so both 'ghost detectives' have all their powers. This leads to lots of fun as the gals frequently 'think up' new outfits (don't you wish you could do this); appear and disappear; play private eye and cop; gather evidence; try to put the police on the right track; and generally cause a bit of mayhem.
Interesting secondary characters in the story include Nick's girlfriend Jan; her 'cougar' mom Arlene; a newspaper man; a diner owner; a local merchant; a cheating wife; a jealous husband; and more. One fun aspect of the earthly ghosts is that they eat and sleep.....just like regular people. (Sounds like a good gig to me!)
This humorous cozy has a slow start, but once it picks up steam it's a very enjoyable light mystery. "Ghost Gone Wild" is the fourth book in the series, but I had no trouble reading it as a standalone.
Recommended to cozy fans.
Rating: 3 stars