Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jacob's Coins by Gillian Larkin: a unique premise behind storage wars

Having a friend working as a site manager for a major US chain of storage facilities, I’d heard some stories about the behind-the-scenes at these places. But who knew even WERE stories? Or drama? Or storage unit auctions? Or finally, reality TV shows ABOUT storage unit auctions? Come to find out this was interesting stuff! Author Gillian Larkin apparently though it was interesting, too, and has parlayed that and a really cool premise into a series called “The Storage Ghosts Mysteries.” And the storage units (or lockers as they are termed in the series) her protagonist, Grace Abrahams, runs across have ghosts tied to their contents.

Grace and her brother, Frankie, recently lost both their parents (and almost Grace herself) in a tragic car accident. Left deeply in debt to a ruthless loan shark, Eddie Tominski, Frankie and Grace turn to bidding on storage unit auctions as a way to put stock back on the shelves of their parents’ antique store in an attempt to dig their way out from under Eddie’s demand for payment.

After her parents’ death, Grace starts to see shadows and glimpses on insubstantial things the just aren’t there. Gradually, these sitings begin to take on a somewhat more substantial “form.” Grace can see and talk to dead people.

In their first storage locker auction experience, Grace encounters and talks to her first real ghost: teenager Jacob also killed in a car accident. Together, they figure out that Grace can help him determine why he hasn’t moved on to a more pleasant afterlife and remains anchored to the contents of an abandoned storage locker.

The characters of Grace and Frankie share a typical brother-sister relationship of sibling love and antagonism. It is fun to watch them interact, care for each other, and tease. The premise of the ghosts in the storage lockers, unable to disengage from their past until some unfinished business is resolved, can be poignant, but was satisfactorily resolved in this first installment of this growing series.

This one is a quick, fun, short novella that lays an entertaining foundation for the coming additions. I can highly recommend this debut to the reader that likes their mysteries cozy and find their sit-down time at a premium. You can get the whole enchilada in the space of an hour or so. I read this book on my birthday. I was delighted.