Tag Archives: mystery

Review of Mind Games, by Polly Iyer

I grabbed a copy of Polly Iyler‘s Mind Games when it was free on Amazon last year.

Description from Goodreads:
During a New Orleans Mardi Gras Ball, psychic entertainer Diana Racine touches the hand of a masked Cyrano de Bergerac and is instantly transported into the icy-cold body of a dead woman submerged in water. As Diana crumples to the floor, water filling her lungs, she hears Cyrano whisper that the game has begun. Diana has been called every epithet in the book: charlatan, cheat, publicity hound…and genius–all at least partially true. But convincing New Orleans police lieutenant Ernie Lucier that her vision of the dead woman is the real thing may be her hardest act yet. He becomes a believer when Diana leads him to the alligator-infested bayou and the woman’s remains. When another vision leads to another body, it’s clear that the two dead women are a prelude to the killer’s ultimate victim–Diana.

I’m torn about how I feel about this book. The writing isn’t bad, though the first half is better than the second. The pacing is fine and the editing is too. Here’s the thing though, I am just so damned tired of reading books predicated on female victimhood, whose plot hinges on some obsessed man stalking and abusing a woman (or women). How many times have I read this?!!! This book spices it up a little by including psychics, but even that I’ve read before (Example: Conduit, by Angie Martin). And that’s not even the only over used plot device here. Sexual sadist with a history of sexual abuse and identity issues? Nope, neeeevvveeerr seen that one used before. (Silence of the Lambs?) I mean, this book could be ok, except it all just BEEN DONE BEFORE ad nauseam.

Review of A Kind of Justice, by Renee James

I received a copy of Renee JamesA Kind of Justice through Netgalley.

Description from Netgalley:
Against all odds, Bobbi Logan, a statuesque transgender woman, has become one of Chicago’s most celebrated hair stylists and the owner of one of the city’s poshest salons. She is finally comfortable with who she is, widely admired in her community, about to enjoy the success she deserves.  

Then her impossibly perfect life falls apart.

In the space of a few weeks, the Great Recession drags her business to the brink of failure, her beloved ex-wife needs help in facing a terrible tragedy, and a hateful police detective storms back into her life, determined to convict her of the five-year-old murder of John Strand—pillar of the community—and a sexual predator.

As the detective builds an ever more convincing case against her, both of them will be shaken by revelations—about themselves, about their own deeply held secrets, and about the bizarre ritual murder of John Strand. 

I’m having a complicated reaction to this book. To start with, I didn’t know it was a sequel until I went to Goodreads to review it, after finishing it. So, now I wonder what I missed, having not read book one. One the upside, the fact that I never felt I was missing anything until I knew there was a previous book means it stands alone just fine.

Secondly, I liked Bobbi. I loved her relationship to her ex-wife. I thought it was one of the sweetest things I’ve read in a while. It wasn’t perfect, they had some issues to work through. But work through them they did and made a family of sorts and I LOVED that. I liked that Bobbi had close platonic friends and that generational differences within communities was addressed. Not to mention that she was a tad older than the average heroine.

I disliked the detective, but appreciate the transformative journey he went through. I liked the possible love interest and that the book doesn’t end with an unrealistic perfect Happily Ever After. It might get there, but wasn’t at the end of this novel.

I liked that this book isn’t just a murder mystery with a transgendered main character. In a very real way, it’s about being a transgendered woman around whom there is a mystery. It’s why I picked the book up in fact.

Having said that (and here is my complication because I don’t want to sound like I’m saying, ‘the trans book was just too trans’), I felt bludgeoned by Bobbi’s transgenderism. Trans/transsexual/transgender/transwoman/transwomen/tranny is used 197 times in the 320 page book, not counting that the charity is called TransRising and any time it’s talked about but not named. Now, my issue isn’t with the individual words or subject that I felt bludgeoned by, but that I felt bludgeoned at all.

I don’t want to take away from the importance of Bobbi’s real world experiences. They are important. I rather just mean the writing was heavy-handed at times and the constant emphasis on one aspect of the character, even an important one that would be expected to effect every area of her life, blotted out some others that in a mystery novel needed more page-time to develop.

Other than the occasionally heavy-handed writing and the fact that I thought the book was slow at times, I mostly really enjoyed it (even having not read the first book). I’d be more than happy to read another story by James.

Review of The Seer, by Jordan Reece

The SeerI picked up a copy of Jordan Reece’s The Seer when it was free on Amazon.

Description from Goodreads
Detective Laeric Scoth is good at his job, but he’s also an ass. And Jesco Currane has just gotten stuck with him on the most frustrating case of their careers. 

When the body of a courier is discovered in an alley, Jesco is called in to assist with his seer skills. All he has to do is touch the clothing of the deceased to identify the killer. But the victim has been stripped naked, and the only evidence at the scene is a timepiece. The people he sees within it have nothing to do with the murder, yet they must be related to the case. 

Chasing down leads with Scoth lets Jesco see another side of the surly, if handsome, detective. But as their feelings for each other grow heated, so does the investigation. Someone doesn’t want them to know who killed the courier . . . and plans to add them to the death toll if they don’t stop pursuing it.

I really quite enjoyed this. It has a sedate, slightly formal pace but it’s really very sweet. Though it’s more of a mystery with romantic elements than an actual romance. (All the sex scenes are fade to black, for example.)

While none of the characters are deeply sketched, I felt I knew them well enough. I also adored the side characters, Gaven and Tammie especially. I enjoyed the seer mythos, though I would have appreciated a little more information on the world and the existence of psychic abilities. The mystery was sufficiently mysterious and the ending satisfying.

I enjoyed the writing, but it could have done with a tad more editing. It wasn’t bad; there were basically just enough errors for me to notice. But all in all, I call this one a win.