Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Eclectic Mix of Mysteries

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.

NetGalley/Random House

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  

NetGalley/Kensington Books

Historical Mystery.  April 25, 2017.  Print length:  304 pages.


  1. Too bad The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief wasn't as good as the title! Maybe the author will find her stride in the second book. (And I would have picked up What the Dead Leave Behind just for its connection to the Blizzard of 1888, too!) :)

    1. :) Thank goodness this month's March blizzard wasn't as bad as the Great Blizzard of 1888! I have been intrigued by the 1888 blizzard since reading Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. The power of weather is stunning--snow, ice, flood, drought can put us in our place!

    2. Have you read The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin? It's about that same storm. I read it last year as one of my non-fiction reads and it's a great read.

    3. No, but I saw a reference to it! I didn't realize it was a book and didn't click on the link. Thanks, Lark!

  2. I got a little excited when I saw mention of Lisa Tuttle. She was a must buy author for me for a short while there. I don't know how much she's written since I stopped looking for her books. I like the title, The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief. Maybe because of the word "somnambulist". I really like that word for some reason.

    Lie to Me sounds good, although not terribly original. It's too bad about the addition of the past lives and hypnosis. I hate it when an author includes a piece of a story only to let it disappear without carrying out the thread.

    I'm really curious about What the Dead Leave Behind.

    1. I have not read anything else by Tuttle, but I do see the promise of the characters and the setting of The Curious Affair. All three books kept me reasonably entertained. :)

  3. That first book has such an interesting title! It sounds like it has potential and hopefully the next book will be better. Lie To Me sounds intriguing, though. I'll have to check this out. And wow, those Great Blizzard pics. The situation really looked terrifying; can't imagine a city being buried with those thick layers of snow.