A phantom captain sends a cookbook author’s vacation awry

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” — Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes when life knocks you in the gut, the best remedy is a change of scenery. In need of an escape, the protagonist heads off to a quaint seaside town in Maine.

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

In an effort to avoid dealing with some personal issues Ava rents a grand old home in Maine to finish working on her overdue book. When she arrives, she finds herself captivated by the local lore surrounding her rental property, Brodie’s Watch, and the long dead sea captain who built it. She’s so fascinated by Captain Brodie she encounters his ghost and the two begin an odd affair.

Gerritsen, known for her detective series “Rizzoli and Isles” (which was later adapted into a TV series), feels a bit predictable in her latest thriller. While the off-kilter love affair with a ghost is certainly attention grabbing, some of the other elements in Ava’s story feel a bit formulaic. Now, just because a plot feels predictable, it doesn't mean the writing isn’t good. It simply means that Gerritsen was comfortable using standard plot points to move her narrative forward. Some readers who spend a great deal of time reading thrillers and whodunits will be able to predict what sent Ava running for the beach and who the villain will be, but they won’t be able to discern the major concern readers will have — whether or not Ava has completely lost her mind.

From the book jacket…

“In that isolated seaside mansion, Ava finally feels at peace ... until she glimpses the long-dead sea captain who still resides there.

Rumor has it that Captain Jeremiah Brodie has haunted the house for more than a century. One night, Ava confronts the apparition, who feels all too real, and who welcomes her into his world — and into his arms. Even as Ava questions her own sanity, she eagerly looks forward to the captain’s ghostly visits. But she soon learns that the house she loves comes with a terrible secret, a secret that those in the village don’t want to reveal: Every woman who has ever lived in Brodie’s Watch has also died there. Is the ghost of Captain Brodie responsible, or is a flesh-and-blood killer at work? A killer who is even now circling closer to Ava?”

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy engaging thrillers might also enjoy “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite. In the book, Korede is a nurse with a knack for cleaning up blood, which is an important skill to have given she has to help her murderous sister literally hide the bodies.