James Murray is a young man with a dream -- to be a writer just like his idol, Dashiell Hammett. He pens his first novel while working as a clerk at a swank downtown department store. He writes his second while working at a famous movie studio turning his first novel into a screenplay. His third novel chronicles his adventures trying to find a kidnapped scientist. His fourth novel details his efforts to help a baseball player find the source of several blackmail threats.
And now, the fifth and concluding novel in the series has him facing perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: the ghost of a young woman who died under mysterious circumstances. James and his wife, newspaper woman Arden St. Johns, investigate a supposed medium who holds séances for the rich and powerful of Hollywood’s elite. But, they encounter a mystery: someone is trying to convince others that the dead niece of a famous actress is out for revenge. Can James and Arden team up to solve the mystery?
“Haunting at Ocean House” -- like its predecessors “Blackmail at Wrigley Field,” “Abduction at Griffith Observatory,” "Sabotage at RKO Studio" and "Murder at Eastern Columbia" -- is unlike any other book you've read: Not a single novel, it's two parallel novels, featuring two heroes, working two mysteries in two different versions of 1930s Los Angeles. Join James and his alter ego as they each try to discover who’s behind the mysterious séances. His hard-boiled alter ego -- neither a private detective nor a police officer: just someone "who wants to help" -- needs to find out whether it’s really a ghost or just someone playing an elaborate and dangerous hoax.
Along the way, they encounter a rich cast of characters including a famous movie actress who is the mistress of a rich and powerful newspaper publisher, the wealthy scion of a condiment manufacturer who designs and races custom cars, an ex-farmer’s daughter who came to the big city to make good, a dangerous gangster, a famous movie canine, and plenty of famous actors and actresses.
In addition, this final novel is filled with countless Southern California locations including a lavish Santa Monica beach house, the newly opened Los Angeles Union Station and its Fred Harvey Cocktail Lounge, the famous pet hospital of Dr. Eugene Jones, the Hollywood Park Racetrack, Biltmore Hotel, Clover Field airfield, the S.S. Rex gambling ship, Mary Pickford’s Wilshire Links and the notorious San Simeon castle. “Haunting at Ocean House” is filled with twists and turns leading to a dramatic climax inside the city’s most popular dance spot: The Palomar Ballroom.
Come along for the ride in this, the fifth and final James Murray mystery: the story of a young man who dreams of something better.