Beautiful Ghost | A Compelling American West Historical Mystery

Beautiful Ghost
by Milana Marsenich

During the fall of 1918, the influenza pandemic crosses the nation and reaches the mining town of Butte, Montana.
Marika Jovich, who wants to go to school to become a physician, works menial tasks for Dr. Fletcher. She feels useless as she tries to save friends and neighbors from the ravages of the flu. In the midst of the pandemic, she watches the town shut down, young and old perish, and her medical dreams all but evaporate.
Kaly Monroe used to be a half-good woman of the night. She left that life to raise her daughter, Annie, and live and work with her long-lost mother, Tara McClane. Kaly waits for her husband, Tommy, to return from the war. Word from the east is that soldiers are dying of influenza and she prays that Tommy is not one of them.
When an out-of-town woman named Amelia suddenly dies in Dr. Fletcher’s office, both women try to learn more about the mysterious woman and the circumstances regarding her death. Is she another casualty of the pandemic, or the victim of manmade foul play? Who is this stranger, and is her demise a portent of the fate that awaits the residents of Butte?
Praise for Beautiful Ghost:
“Marsenich doesn’t just describe the place and times, she conjures it up like time travel.”
~ Amazon Review by Ellen Leahy Howell
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Enjoy a Snippet: The Wolf Dog
The wolf dog leaves the boy at the bakery with his new family. Earlier that week the boy slept so much that the dog refused to leave his side, fearing that some primitive devil crashed its way into his lungs. The boy is up and playing now and the dog strolls through the town, mystified by the boy’s fatigue and the altered weather, the light behind the black headframes shifting and changing, a sure sign of the coming winter. He watches for the devil, smells for a trace of the odor trailing him.
The odor comes from the sick people, grasping their stomachs, falling suddenly to their knees, passing the gesture to those nearby, until the whole house smells odd and sad moans escape. The odor comes from the dead wagons as they carry people to the morgue. The odor, the whisper of a spirit, that untouchable devil finds the strong and fine, and turns them weak.
The wolf dog sniffs it out and finds the scent of it everywhere, this tiny enemy soars on the wind, digs into the earth. It reaches down from the icy cold sun crossing the sky. It has found a tunnel to burrow into and lodges in a copper vein deep in a dark hole where dynamite could blow it to a million little pieces, each piece landing anew on some unsuspecting creature, driving the scent deep and taking the breath. And the life.
Award winning author, Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. She enjoys quick access to the mountains and has spent many hours hiking the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. For the past 20 years she has worked as a mental health therapist in a variety of settings. As a natural listener and a therapist, she has witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. She first witnessed this in her hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history and the setting for Copper Sky, her first novel.
Copper Sky was chosen as a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel in 2018. Her second novel, The Swan Keeper, was a Willa Award finalist in 2019. Her short story, Wild Dogs, won the Laura Award for short fiction in 2020.
She has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, The Moronic Ox, BookGlow, and Feminist Studies.
She has three published novels, Copper Sky, The Swan Keeper, and Beautiful Ghost, and one popular history book, Idaho Madams. Her upcoming novel, Shed Girl: A Juliet French Novel, will be released January 2024. Her popular history book, Mary MacLane: Butte’s Wild Woman and her Wooden Heart, will be out sometime in 2025.
You can find her books and blog posts at
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