Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: October 8, 2019
I loved Kate Racculia’s last novel, Bellweather Rhapsody, because it combined so many of my favorite elements—quirky, smart outsiders, the realities of life butting up against the unexpected, and sharp, funny writing. This means I was nervously excited to learn she had a new novel out this month. It is so hard to duplicate that combination. It’s like going back to restaurant you loved years ago and finding a favorite dish to be mediocre. Imagine then, how happy I was to fall in love with Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. Racculia loses none of her edge in this twisty novel about a goth-ish introvert named Tuesday who becomes part of a citywide treasure hunt after a flamboyant billionaire dies and promises a part of his fortune to anyone who can solve the mystery.
Tuesday is an unusual young woman. Her independence and laser-focused mind serve her well as a researcher for a large hospital, but she hides a burden, that of having lost her best friend when she was 16. There were never answers about what happened to Abby, but she has taken up residence in Tuesday’s head, talking to her when the mood strikes. Tuesday’s next-door neighbor is a lonely 14-year-old whose father works a lot. He allows Tuesday to tutor Dorry. She has her own ghosts; her mother having died two years ago. She joins Tuesday on the hunt because one of the items purported to be part of the treasure is a pair of goggles that allows the wearer to see ghosts. She knows it’s crazy, but…what if it isn’t and she can see her mother again?
As if one billionaire isn’t enough, Tuesday also meets Archie, one of the heirs to a large manufacturing corporation. His interest in the hunt is unclear, but his interest in Tuesday is not. His presence is problematic for Tuesday’s only friend, Dexter. A buttoned-up, gay financial analyst with a penchant for breaking his relationships, high heels, and karaoke, he doesn’t want to share her, especially because it means less attention for him. This crew of misfits are all on the trail, but of what? Very little is known about the dead man, so what lies at the end of this hunt? Is it one prize? One winner? Or is it something more?
On the surface, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts is a mystery. But the novel goes far below the surface—literally and figuratively. Literally, because the first clue leads to a subway station and the second to an old, unused concert hall several stories underground. Figuratively, because there are four characters who appear one way, but have so much else going on underneath. Racculia gives Tuesday, Dex, and Dorry baggage and stories that light up their humanity, making them feel real. Just as important, is the underlying motivation for each. It’s not money. They’re lonely. Each in their own odd, unique way, even as they function at high levels in society. They’ve lost a part of themselves and need to find it as much as the supposed treasure.
Amidst this engaging, amusing ball of odd, there is only one character who doesn’t seem to fit. Tuesday, Dorry, and Dex had so many marvelous layers, as did several of the other lesser characters, but Archie was flat. In the beginning I understood why he was there, but then when his story expanded it wasn’t as interesting. He was the weakest link in the novel, but it’s a minor point because I loved reading this book. It charmed me, made me laugh, and kept me guessing. Despite having no magic in it, it is a magical novel.
In playing my game, know that you honor my last requests: that you make your way through this world with curiosity and courage, that you follow strange clues, make detours, and that you do not play it alone. Find a partner or two or three or four. Cross and crisscross your paths with the paths of others.