If I had to choose one genre to read for the rest of my life, I’d choose mystery. I love true crime tv, podcasts like Serial, and I’ll forever have a special place in my heart for all of Mary Higgins Clark’s formulaic murder mysteries. My husband jokes that he sleeps with one eye open because I have an extensive knowledge of how to kill and get away with it. But seriously– suspenseful, spooky murder mysteries are my jam. I’ve read several great books lately that fit into this category, but this particular book, People Like Us by Dana Mele, still haunts me:
One girl is dead, found drowned in the lake on the grounds of a prestigious, private all-girls school. Unfortunately, Kay Donovan and her friends were the ones to find the dead girl, Jessica Lane, and now Kay is a suspect. Kay’s mean-girl ways combined with her part in the deaths of her brother and best friend don’t work in her favor. To complicate matters, Kay receives an email from Jessica, blackmailing her into ruining the lives of her friends if she wants to clear her own name.
Kay teams up with social outcast Nola whose computer hacking skills may help Kay save her reputation and land the soccer scholarship she’s worked so hard to earn. Their research casts each of the people in Kay’s popular inner circle in terrible light–perpetrators of bullying, cheating, doping and worse–and it’s hard not to judge Kay for her own ruthless behavior and efforts to salvage her own reputation. She is a deeply flawed protagonist.
When additional bodies surface, Kay must face her past transgressions and hope that she can outsmart the killer (or ghost?) before she’s framed for murder.
This is the best mystery book I’ve read in a long time. It’s chilling, and Dana Mele’s characters are fascinatingly messed-up. The ending is a doozie, too. I highly recommend the audiobook.
The Lure of the Lemp
I was almost giddy about the #plotdrivenlife experience I chose for this book: to visit a locally haunted location. In People Like Us, it’s easy to believe Jessica Lane is haunting Kay through the wicked emails Kay receives. I was thrilled to have an excuse to book a ghost tour to a place that is notorious for its gruesome history and world-wide acclaim as a haunted house: the Lemp Mansion.
The Lemp is a foreboding building that sits just a few streets away from the sprawling property occupied by Anheuser Busch-InBev in downtown St. Louis. Mike and I visited the Lemp on an ugly, cold night in November when the house’s main floor was full of murder mystery dinner party guests who seemed to be having the time of their lives. We were there for a paranormal tour of the other floors of the mansion, armed with both a night-vision camera and an EMF (electromagnetic field) detector to hone in on nearby spirits. Before we set out in search of ghosts, we were treated to some Lemp family history and an explanation of why the mansion is believed to be so haunted. Our tour guide from the St. Louis Paranormal Research Society explained that the lavish house was once owned by the Lemp family who made their fortune in beer brewing during the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite their vast fortune and successful business, three Lemp men are believed to have committed suicide in the mansion, and, while official records claim young Elsa Lemp Wright also committed suicide, there is evidence that she was murdered by her husband after returning from their (second) honeymoon. Regardless, the mansion will give you the creeps!
The house has been renovated to mimic how it would have looked during the Lemp’s occupancy, and on a paranormal ghost tour, the hallways and rooms you are exploring are lit with just enough light that you won’t trip, break your neck, and add yourself to the list of household dead. Mike and I stumbled around with others on the tour, eager to locate a ghost with our equipment. Mike swears he caught sight of something with the night-vision camera, but I didn’t have much luck with the EMF detector. Nonetheless, the house feels like it holds dark secrets, and though it’s an option, you would never catch me spending the night! The experience of touring the house motivated me to attend an event at my local library about the mystery surrounding Elsa Lemp Wright’s murder, and I’m chomping at the bit to check out this documentary which is now scheduled to be released in 2020, 100 years after Elsa’s death.
There is so much about the Lemp that I want to explore in more detail: information about the cave system below the house, the mental illness that seemed to curse the family, and the evidence that has earned the house a place on reputable lists of the most haunted places in the USA. Stephen Wright’s book, Lemp: The Haunting History, is a great place to start, if you’re curious like me.
A tour to the Lemp was the perfect #plotdrivenlife experience to match the eerie vibe of People Like Us. What haunted locations have you visited, and would you ever consider staying overnight as a guest at the Lemp?