In Dalrymple’s second thriller featuring Ann Kinnear, the appealing spirit sensor fears she may be haunted by the ghost of a killer.
Ann’s been unhappy since surviving an encounter with a murderer; she killed Biden Firth in self-defense but also lost her beloved dog Beau. And though she can sense Beau’s spirit, he seems to have moved on. When sudden hand cramps lead to injuries, Ann believes Firth’s ghost is the source and calls fellow sensor/consultant Garrick Masser. Garrick, in turn, offers an exchange of services: he’ll help get rid of Firth if Ann can locate “the lady,” a mysterious something that Garrick’s client, Ellen Lynam, wants. Ellen’s late brother, Loring, isn’t cooperating with Garrick (they weren’t on friendly terms when Loring was alive), but the ghost may respond more favorably to the reddish-blonde Ann. Ann, meanwhile, can only hope that Firth doesn’t compound his assaults on her. Dalrymple (The Sense of Death, 2013) has crafted an understated mystery; it seems like a simple case for Ann, but numerous conundrums emerge during the investigation. It isn’t initially apparent, for example, what exactly the lady is, or why Ellen thinks the lady can save her family’s hotel. There’s unquestionably a constant threat for Ann; she can’t even drive because a hand cramp could cause an accident, and she has to rely on brother Mike’s boyfriend, Scott, as her chauffeur. But Dalrymple’s story is at its best in its jovial, humorous scenes. For example, Ann’s go-to pseudonym is Kay Near, clearly inspired by her surname. Likewise, a surprise run-in with Ellen leads Ann to pretend Scott is her fiance, a role that he plays with unmistakable relish. Even Dalrymple’s prose isn’t resistant to cheeky descriptions, referring to Garrick as an “emaciated vulture,” while Ann, aiming to drive without Scott’s knowledge, spots his hanging pants and pats “the pockets of the pant guiltily.” The ending offers a thorough resolution but not before hitting a few genuinely surprising plot twists.
A book that proves just as keen and charming as its characters.