The Ghost in Roomette Four: A California Zephyr Mystery

Janet Dawson. Perseverance, $15.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-56474-598-9

A ghost helps solve his own murder in Dawson’s uneven third California Zephyr mystery (after 2016’s Death Deals a Hand). In May 1953, Jill McLeod, a customer service employee known as a Zephyrette, finds a passenger, Mr. Randall, dead in his roomette aboard a train headed for San Francisco. Two months later, she sees a mysterious light and hears unexplained noises in the same car. Despite her skepticism about ghosts, she agrees to attend a séance suggested by her flamboyant friend, Grace Tidsdale. The results prompt her to launch an investigation into Randall’s death. Railway aficionados will appreciate information about train routes and daily operations, and depictions of upper-middle-class women’s lives—such as the pressure Jill faces to marry and quit a job she loves—may resonate with some readers. On the other hand, the action slows when Dawson starts listing library books and detailing the streets that Jill and her friends navigate in their San Francisco neighborhood. Likable characters compensate only in part for the insubstantial plot. (Apr.)