Series: Tradd Street #1
Genres: Paranormal Mystery
Published by New American Library on 4 November 2008
The House on Tradd Street is an interesting paranormal mystery that revolves a historical house in Charleston. Nevin Vanderhorst deeds this classic home to Melanie, a woman he has only met once, on the proviso that she resides there for one year. The only catch is that the house is replete with ghosts and secrets. There were a few plot quirks and poor characterisation that stopped me from really loving this one.
Melanie usually avoids old things as she has the ability to see ghosts so living in an old house with resident ghosts is less than ideal. She hasn’t had an easy life with an alcoholic father and absent mother and seems to use obsessive organising and being plain mean as a way of keeping people at bay. I’m not really sure how she managed to keep her friends given her superior attitude. She isn’t exactly that bright either as she can’t work out which of her two beaus are trustworthy or even follow giant clues to solve the mystery. Handsome writer Jack Trenholm offers to help Melanie find out what happened to the previous owner’s mother who mysteriously disappeared. In return, he wants access to anything he finds so he can write a book about it. The relationship between the two fizzles rather than sizzles as I didn’t really see how a man like Jack would be interested in someone like Melanie. Jack doesn’t really take Melanie’s needs into consideration and even pushes her into rebuilding a once toxic relationship with her father that has clearly scarred her. The constant sexual innuendos made him seem fairly immature. For some reason the big secret regarding his motivations has been put on the blurb. The secondary characters were not fleshed out properly – Marc in particular exists for no reason other than to create a possible love triangle. For this to work though, we needed more information about his background and for Melanie to think she might be able to care for him. While she is dating Marc and kissing him, she is thinking about Jack.
There are two separate mysteries in this novel and the historical one draws your attention far more than the contemporary one. Nevin wanted Melanie to find out what happened to his mother and uncovering her life through photo albums and notes was effective. Unfortunately the twists are very heavily foreshadowed and the clues practically have a neon sign over them. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem in a different genre but it dilutes the mystery which is sort of the point. There were some editing issues and if you are like me it will grate a bit. They do upset the overall flow which is a shame as it is something that could have been relatively easily fixed.
Despite the quibbles I had with it, I liked the historical mystery, the ghosts and the house restoration. It is worth reading when you are in the mood for something fairly light but I wouldn’t put it at the top of a TBR pile.