The Murder Beach series takes place along the Northern California coast in a small town located about where Half Moon Bay is, although there are many differences between the two. The ocean in that area has a wild quality, and just up the coast from Cass’ house is a stretch of beach that is home to the Mavericks surfing competition each year.
Cass Peake’s world has been turned upside down by her husband’s unfaithfulness and their divorce. In an effort to make a new life for herself, she moves to a small town on the northern California coast. She soon discovers the reason she’s able to afford a house on the ocean: it comes equipped with a ghost. Everyone Cass meets after she’s bought the cottage lets her know that her house is haunted and that the beach in front of her place is called Murder Beach. She can’t even get a pizza delivered.
Doris, the ghost, is a flapper and the daughter of a bootlegger. She, her father, and her fiancé were all murdered on the beach in front of Cass’ house in the 1930s. A writers’ group in the 1960s held a séance and brought her back to the place of her death, and she wants to know who murdered her. In the past, she’s driven owners away, but she likes Cass and asks for her help in solving her murder.
Thor is an enormous black long-haired cat with a grumpy, obstreperous personality. He doesn’t walk; he stalks. He has amber eyes and a fondness for the juice left in the can after the tuna meat is removed. He doesn’t meow so much as express himself with a raspy meow-howl. He used to stand on his hind legs and pound on the back door like a boxer pummeling a bag until Cass installed a cat door. This made Thor mobile, and Doris the ghost was able to possess him and escape the confines of the property. Together they roam the countryside as Thoris. When Doris inhabits Thor, she can speak, albeit awkwardly, through him. Thor does not talk on his own nor does he solve mysteries.