Portia Mahaffey had a crummy job, no boyfriend and a tiny apartment. Still, she believed she had a good life until the ghosts showed up. Who knew adventures with the undead could get you fired, make you solve a murder and help you find not one but two hot guys?
THE FIRST GHOST by Marguerite Butler is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced paranormal ride. When the reader first meets Portia, she’s unlikable and slightly pathetic, a Muggle in a family of clairvoyant women. She thinks her life is perfectly fine without the family ‘gift,’ but when she finally sees her first ghost, her universe is tumbled upside down with clingy spirits, a farty dog and a talent for finding trouble.
I loved Butler’s new characterization of Death: she’s sharp with a deadpan (naturally!) sense of humor. In fact, all the characters are fully-rounded and very believable. Each has his or her own flaws and talents, and the dialogue is very natural, from the hot doctor she starts dating to her neurotic, funeral home-owning family. These characters act like real people and it makes this book a joy to read.
At first I didn’t care for Portia, but once she began her journey and her ultimate transformation from selfish chick to kind-hearted protector, it all made perfect sense. The story really took off for me from the initial hospital room scene where she meets the ghost of murdered secretary Corinne, and I was hooked from there until the very last page. Butler has a deft hand for weaving plotlines together and keeping the action flowing from one chaotic day to the next without losing the reader in a flurry of murders, suspects, industrial espionage and romance. This is the story I would wish for Nancy Drew; you know, if she grew up, got a concussion and saw dead people.
The book ties up some loose threads but not all of them. I’m hoping that’s because Butler plans to continue the series and give Portia a rich, full, dangerous life.