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THE GRIFT by Debra Ginsberg


by Debra Ginsberg

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-307-38272-6
Publisher: Shaye Areheart/Harmony

Memoirist and novelist Ginsberg (Blind Submission, 2006, etc.) mixes supernatural and film noir elements in this mystery about a woman whose living as a psychic falls apart when her psychic powers become too real.

Marina has told fortunes for a living since childhood, using powers of observation and intuition to tell people what they want to hear. In 2005, desperate to escape a bad situation in south Florida, she tricks an old woman, Mrs. Golden, into paying her a large sum for her services. But Mrs. Golden also forces Marina to accept a valuable ruby ring as a talisman to protect her son. Out of guilt and superstition, Marina wears the ring around her neck at all times when she makes a new start in California. Her career takes off after she tells fortunes at a party thrown by Madeline, whose rich husband Andrew is pressuring Madeline to have a baby. Despite Andrew’s antipathy toward Marina, Madeline is soon a client. Other clients include Cooper, a gay man in love with a man who won’t admit he’s gay, and Eddie, a married womanizer. As her clients become increasingly dependent on Marina, their lives begin to unravel, and their attitudes toward Marina turn hostile, even threatening. Meanwhile, she falls into a romantic affair with the mysterious stranger Gideon. After she and Gideon make love for the first time, he announces in a fury that he is Mrs. Golden’s son and takes the ruby ring from her. Marina is crushed. Adding to her distress is a recurring nightmare as well as her sudden ability to see ghosts. She does not know what to do with her new psychic powers, even when she sees that Gideon is in danger. Then someone close to Marina is killed and she falls under suspicion until the real culprit is revealed.

Although Marina is a richly drawn, deeply involving heroine, the overly contrived plot sits uneasily with Ginsberg’s earnest take on paranormal powers.