Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mind Over Murder - Allison Kingsley


Mind Over Murder
A Raven’s Nest Bookstore Mystery
Allison Kingsley
Berkley Prime Crime
 
Mystery
 
After an unhappy stint in New York, Clara Quinn has returned to her hometown, the tourist haven of Finn’s Harbor in Maine.  Her cousin and lifelong best friend, Stephanie, runs a bookstore called The Raven’s Nest.  Ana Jordan, the owner of the shop next door, is agitating against the book shop, claiming that the sale of “occult” books will inevitably turn the town’s kids into witches or toads or Satanists or thinking individuals or whatever it is that book-banners fear is likely to happen.  Apparently, the fact that the store also stocks the required reading books for the local high school is lost on her.  Molly, a bookstore employee, exchanges some fairly angry words with Ana on the sidewalk between the shops.
 
The following morning, Clara finds Ana in the bookstore’s storeroom.  She’s dead; bashed over the head with a bust of Edgar Allan Poe.  (Whether you find that horrifying or ironic kind of depends on your own personal stance on banning books, I suppose.)  The police hear about the argument with Molly, and, since she was the last person out of the shop the previous night, she immediately becomes the prime suspect.  Stephanie won’t have it and wants to prove that Molly is innocent.  She convinces Clara to use something called the Quinn Sense to help figure out the identity of the killer.
 
This Quinn Sense is supposed to be a sort of psychic sense that, during her adolescence, allowed Clara to get flashes of the future and interpret dreams.  As it stands, it’s really just common sense or intuition or that feeling you get when you know someone is staring at you.  So, if you’re not a fan of paranormal stuff, you have nothing to worry about here.  This, the first in a new series, is a fairly straightforward mystery novel.  There’s a nice assortment of suspects and possible motives; although it’s not too hard to pinpoint the killer, even without a sixth sense.
 
Watching the actions and reactions of Clara and Stephanie, I can’t help thinking that they might have been originally conceived as teenage ‘girl detectives,’ and only given adult backgrounds as an afterthought.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s pretty common to revert to a younger version of yourself when you visit/rejoin close members of your family after an absence.  It’s just jarring to witness a woman come up with Nancy Drew-level plans (don’t get me wrong, I grew up on Nancy and I loved her) when you’re told that the woman in question owns her own business, is married, and has three children.  There are some kinks to be worked out here, but the setting is good, the surrounding characters are engaging, and the mystery was certainly interesting enough to keep my attention to the end.
 
Rating: 6
September 2011
ISBN# 978-0-425-24377-0 (paperback)

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