Verity's life hasn't been the same since she accidentally trapped her gangster ghost buddy Frankie by dumping his ashes in her rose garden. Verity seems to keep falling into trouble even though she's working really hard to get her personal business up and running and to figure out her relationship with Ellis. Verity may love Sugarland, but Sugarland isn't exactly in love with her any longer thanks to the mother of her would be boyfriend Ellis. Things look like they may finally be taking a turn for the better when Verity is invited to the bank to interview for a job. Unfortunately for Verity, the interview ends when the bank manger is found dead in the vault. Verity was only trying to get a new client and instead she's now tasked with figuring out who murdered the bank manager with the help of Ellis and of course her faithful ghost friend Frankie.
As you can tell form the cover, The Haunted Heist is paranormal chick lit. I''m a big believer in light fluffy reading during the summer. It's the perfect book to take along on a picnic or to relax with at the beach. It is essential that you go into this book and this series with the understanding that it's simply meant to be a bit of entertainment to pass away a lazy afternoon.
I couldn't help to giggle every time Frankie sought to get Verity to turn to a life of crime to end her money troubles. Even driving with Verity is enough for Frankie to suggest that she change her occupation to get away driver. Their exchanges are the best in the book, even if at times Frankie becomes irritating when he interrupts Ellis and Verity when they are canoodling. Verity, Frankie and Ellis get into a lot of trouble together and it's hilarious. I particularly loved them entering a ghostly speakeasy and the night ending with a ghostly bar fight with ghostly bullets whizzing through the air.
Despite the fact that The Haunted Heist is the literary equivalent of cotton candy, the one thing Angie Fox does really well is her interrogation of class. Verity has eighty dollars in her bank account and no job to speak of, so cash is constantly a problem for her. Fox doesn't shy away from how difficult this makes life for her. Fox goes into detail about how because of her poverty, Verity has an extremely limited wardrobe and must borrow clothing from her sister. Even meals don't come easily and Verity's diet consists of cheap things like bananas and protein bars. To hide her poverty, Verity even goes without a jacket because the only one she could afford in her size at the second hand shop is hideous. Verity's life isn't about what she likes but what she can scrape together. I will however say that I love the idea of Verity driving around Sugarland in 1978 avocado green Cadillac.
This is the third book in this series and I am sorry to say that thus far, it remains erased. I know that it's set in the fictional south but that doesn't explain the absence of all people of colour, LGBTQ people and disabled people. It's like some sort of whiteness utopia wrapped up in southern politeness and visits from friends. The only mention of people of colour occurred when Verity happened across an Indigenous tribe camping out in a parking lot. So much could have been done with them, particularly given the history of Indigenous people in North America but Fox didn't do more than give them a passing mention. Surely, this series could be much more diverse than it is and still hold true to its setting and purpose.
The Haunted Heist is an extremely quick read and in fact, I finished it in one afternoon. I consider it bubble gum for the brain. There were passages that were laugh out loud funny. I found that I simply couldn't help rooting for Verity on her latest ghostly adventure. The characters are still painted rather thinly in favour of gimmicks passing off as real growth and in any other genre, I might consider this to be a major fault in a story or series but it works for chick lit. The best thing I suppose that I can say is that the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries is true to the genre it belongs in and so if you don't like chicklit, this will not be the book for you; however, if you enjoy a light read from time to time, The Haunted Heist, which can be read as a standalone, might just be for you.