A psychic discovers a murder when she returns to her Midwest hometown.
“Epiphany couldn’t remember a time when they weren’t there,” O’Connor (American River: Confluence, 2018, etc.) writes about her main character in her latest novel, “the voices, the visions, the patterns of colored light that flickered around the bodies of her family and friends, the ghostly figures that came and went, appearing and disappearing, there and then gone.” Epiphany Mayall works in a spiritualist community in Watoolahatchee, Florida, and now she’s returning to her parents’ house in Mt. Eden, Ohio. She first left the town 40 years ago. Her memories of the place are conflicted—her father had called her psychic gifts “the Devil’s business”—and they grow more so as the plot advances. Epiphany is contacted by her old teacher Dr. John Bernhardt about the recent theft of a William Blake drawing from a local museum, and her parents tell her that localized earthquakes have been happening quite a lot recently, the result of a new fracking operation in the vicinity. And shortly after learning this, Epiphany receives another shock. Bernhardt has died, apparently of a heart attack—but then his ghost appears to tell her it was murder most foul. With this killing, the art theft, and the background disturbance of a shadowy fracking corporation, the elements of a solid psychic murder mystery are in place. O’Connor delivers on that promise with smooth readability throughout the tale. Epiphany quickly gathers allies, including an FBI art-crimes specialist, and enemies, some predictably connected with the fracking company and others perhaps with even deeper motives. The book’s central plot is powered by Epiphany’s personality, and the author does a seamless job of incorporating the exposition of the psychic’s sleuthing into the general narration without bogging things down. Likewise, Epiphany’s various supernatural abilities are portrayed with an appealing lack of fuss and histrionics—she’s been living with her gifts so long that readers will begin to share her comfort with the spiritual world. The result is a sure-footed, very enjoyable mystery novel.
An involving and well-orchestrated thriller in which supernatural elements work comfortably alongside ripped-from-the-headlines events.