The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief caught my interest with the cover, the idea of a psychic, and this brief description: "Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . ."
The first page had promise. Miss Lane had been friend and collaborator to a "Miss X" -- a psychic investigator and member of the Society of Psychical Research, but when Miss Lane suspects her friend of her own brand of chicanery, Miss Lane takes abrupt leave of Miss X and returns to London.
In search of a job, Miss Lane happens on an advert for a position as a consulting detective with Mr. Jasper Jefferson. Her previous position involved investigating psychic phenomena, perhaps detective work would not be too much of a transition.
But the book didn't seem to know where to go: humor? quirky? serious? real or fake psychic abilities? The first seemed to offer an offbeat, quirky narrative, but that got lost fairly quickly. Miss X is initially presented as perhaps being vindictive and vengeful, but that, too, disappears. Miss Lane and Mr. Jesperson should have some chemistry, it is certainly implied, but it fails to feel genuine.
The possibility of fleshing out these characters remains, but in this first book in the series, Miss Lane and Mr. Jesperson remain two dimensional. Both characters need a good deal of development to help them evolve into interesting and unique personalities rather than pawns around which a story emerges. The plot is a little muddled and could use some efficient editing.
The Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief has potential for a fun and suspenseful series, and perhaps the next in the series will give a bit more "character" to the characters, a clearer tone, and a more incisive plot.
Paranormal/Mystery. First published in 2016; May 16, 2017.
Lie to Me by Jess Ryder begins with an old videotape that Meredith discovers in the attic. When her father realize that she has the tape, he is upset and attempts to seize it, but Meredith keeps it and is later stunned to see her four-year-old self with the mother who disappeared shortly after the tape was made. Meredith's investigation into the meaning of the tape and what happened to her mother leads her to a crime that occurred thirty years ago.
Putting the pieces together reveals a number of surprises associated with the murder that took place at Dark Pool and questions about who was responsible. Meredith researches the trial and meets some of the people involved. Since the hypnosis and past life segment wasn't really pursued, I wish it had been left out, but Meredith's persistent search for answers kept me interested although I didn't always find her behavior reasonable.
Told from three perspectives, the plot has several twists.
Crime/Suspense. April 19, 2017. Print length: 388 pages.
What really created my interest in What the Dead Leave Behind was the idea of Blizzard of 1888, and strangely, I finished the book a few days before the prediction of the huge blizzard to hit New York and the east coast in mid-March of this year.
Prudence McKenzie, still grieving over her father's recent death, awaits the arrival of her fiance as the blizzard sets in, covering New York in snow. Charles, however, will never arrive and will be one of the 200 bodies discovered on New York streets in the aftermath of the storm.
Charles Linwood and Roscoe Conkling were out in the storm; Conkling made it to safety, but Charles' body was found after the storm.
Prudence is devastated. Her doctor had recommended laudanum to help Prudence deal with her father's death, but had issued strict instructions. Now, Prudence is even more in the drug's clutches.
OK- there is a wicked stepmother and some dastardly deeds done, but Prudence does have some support in the characters of Roscoe Conkling and Charles Linwood's friend Geoffrey Hunter, a former Pinkerton Agent.
I assume this is to be a new series. Although my main interest was the Great Blizzard, that part of the story is only at the beginning.
A Buried City: The Blizzard of 1888
The Great Blizzard of 1888
Historical Mystery. April 25, 2017. Print length: 304 pages.