Happy Returns

by Manning Coles
Release date: 1955
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy

Emboldened by strong drink, tourists James and Charles Latimer met an untimely end while foolishly trying to stop a German advance during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and were put to their not-so-eternal rest in a cemetery in a small French village.

But whenever a relative is in trouble, these two benevolent spooks rise from the grave to use their unique talents to right wrongs. This time it's 1954 and they're off to Lake Como in Italy where Uncle Quentin finds his confirmed bachelor status is in serious danger from an eager widow who just won't take no for an eager widow who just won't take no for an answer.

Along the way, they learn how to drive — more or less — an automobile, outwit a couple of bank robbers, stage an old-fashioned duel, and solve a murder with a little help from the victim, a fellow ghost. Accompanying them on the journey is their pet monkey. Ulysses, whose love for wine and adventure wreaks havoc on a small French garrison town when he helps free a bevy of circus animals, including an educated elephant who feels the show must go on.

(updated 2011-02-07)

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