I picked up Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, by Kate Racculia, read the blurb, as I usually do, and thought, I have to see how she makes this work! In reading it, I fell in love with the book.
It all begins with Tuesday Mooney, the title character, who works as a researcher for a hospital, and has volunteered for a charity event the hospital is sponsoring. She grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, yes, that one, and had a fascination with all the morbid, Goth type things. She still wears black, occasionally wearing heels for occasions. At this charity auction, a member of the wealthy Arches family deigns to attend. They strike up an unlikely flirtation, since he is unlike the profile she has pulled together. Her friend, Dex, a VP of a finance establishment, comes over to be somewhere, other than in the bar where he just broke up with his last boyfriend. Dex finds a seat with a lady, Lila Price, who turns out to be the wife of multi-billionaire Vincent Pryce (note, please, the Y, and the character claims to have been named by his parents, Vincent Price’s christening name was Vincent Leonard Price, Jr.—also named by his parents, and father, Vincent Leonard Price, Sr.). During the auction, Pryce dies, mid-bid. Two days later, a self-written, full page, obituary appears in the newspaper, starting a treasure hunt/game, with a wake/masquerade/party on the Boston Common at the end of the month (October.) And off go the seekers, Tuesday, Nathan, Dex, and eventually, many other dreamers and characters from around Boston.
Amid all the eccentricities, these are characters created in the round that are sympathetic. All have suffered and grieved. Tuesday’s best friend went missing in her teen years, and was never found. The young Nathanael Arches’ father disappeared from a rowboat, his body never found. Tuesday’s teenage next-door neighbor and her father have lost her mother due to a car accident. Mrs. Pryce has lost her husband.
The banter itself is enough to endear the book to any reader. The pop culture references alone are worked in well, Batman and Edgar Allen Poe, The X Files, and Prince. The author has an interesting way with words, in one sentence Dex says of Tuesday, “Every time Dex succeeded in making Tuesday smile, it was like seeing a rainbow over a haunted house.”
And the layers, there are the layers of loss, and the layers of the game. The layers of what is said, and all that isn’t said. The ghosts that are memory, regret, and actual. It all works. Tuesday loses her job due to her own mistake. Dex realizes the path not taken, can be returned to, the teenager finds a new friendship with another teenager, and the heir finds a family. None of it is as neat and tidy as I make it seem, and the author does an interesting job of both tying up the threads of the story, and still leaving them seem like real life, and a beginning.
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, by Kate Racculia, hardback, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, ISBN 9780358023939