Saturday, October 03, 2015
Nine Lives: A Lily Dale Mystery
This is the story of Bella, whose husband Sam has passed away, leaving she and her young son at loose ends. When she's laid off from her teaching job, she feels her only option is to move from New York to Chicago to live with her cold, disapproving mother-in-law. But along the way, her car breaks down in Lily Dale. Yes, THE Lily Dale, home to psychics and mediums, but Bella is at its mercy for a place to stay. Somehow she finds herself in a bed and breakfast, filling in for the owner, who has recently passed away herself. But the kindliness of the townspeople and the appearance of a very pregnant cat--which may or may not have shown up at Bella's former home days earlier--keep Bella and Max in the town while her car is repaired. It sounds like a good thing, but there are some decidedly odd events going on, and Bella becomes certain that Leona, the previous owner, was murdered. Will she and Max be safe here, even for a few days.
There's a lot to like in this story. Bella's determination to get on with her life despite her losses makes her easily sympathetic and Chance the Cat is a good anchor for the home and for both Bella and Max. There are some very odd people in Lily Dale, but most are believably written, especially when one considers the setting for the story. There are some weird occurances, and Bella's unsettled nature fuels a sense of urgency. But it's the idea that everything happens for a reason that lends a heart to a murder mystery.
My biggest issue with the book is the fact that it's written in third person, present tense, leading to sometimes clunky sentences that seem superficial rather than in-depth. Several times I was pulled out of the story because of the writing style, though I did settle into it about mid-way. Personally, I felt the plot would have benefitted greatly from a first person view point, but that is just my preference because I don't feel the two styles gel particularly well. Overall, however, I ended up liking the book and will probably seek out others in the series.