Friday, April 22, 2011

A Timely Vision - Joyce and Jim Lavene

A Timely Vision
A Missing Pieces Mystery
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley Prime Crime


Miss Mildred and Miss Elizabeth are legends in tiny Duck, North Carolina. The oldest living residents, and sisters, they’ve got plenty of history with the town and each other. At age 92, and after a successful marriage of her own, Miss Mildred still carries a grudge over Johnny Simpson, who chose Miss Elizabeth instead of her. The fact that this man later ran out on Miss Elizabeth doesn’t seem to enter into the equation. The story begins when Miss Mildred visits Dae O’Donnell at her shop, Missing Pieces, to ask for help.

Everyone in town knows that Dae has a talent for finding things. If you’ve lost something, Dae can hold your hand and tell you where that thing is. In a town that traces its roots to pirates and takes ghost sightings on the beach as a matter of course, Dae’s gift is regarded simply as useful. Miss Mildred lent her mother’s watch to Miss Elizabeth, who hasn’t returned it. To Miss Mildred, that means it’s lost. Dae gets a very clear mental image of the watch on Miss Elizabeth’s arm, but Miss Elizabeth is nowhere to be found. That’s a serious problem because Miss Elizabeth is known for aimlessly wandering on the beach, and there’s a serious storm breaking over the coast.

Kevin Brickman, the new guy in town, volunteers to help Dae search. To their dismay, they find Miss Elizabeth on the beach. She’s buried in the sand, with only her watch arm showing. It’s a blow to the town, but Miss Mildred opines that her sister might have got what she had coming. Not what you’d expect to hear. Days later, Miss Elizabeth’s purse (missing from the crime scene) turns up at Miss Mildred’s house. Miss Mildred claims her sister brought it to her the previous night. Ghost sightings may be accepted by the locals, but there’s no way a judge or a court of law is going to believe it. In no time, Mildred is arrested for the murder of her sister. Dae knows that it’s not true, and sets out to prove it.

This is the solidly entertaining first installment in a new series. The paranormal elements are blended seamlessly with the mystery elements. Dae has a gift, and sometimes she has to prove it to the skeptical. Kevin, for instance, doesn’t quite believe in the gift, but he’s renovating the long-abandoned local inn, and needs to find a key to a locked door. When Dae finds it for him, they find much more than they expected in that locked room. Although he’s a ‘show me’ type, Kevin has to admit that the gift is real.

There’s a lot of necessary introduction that takes place in any first book, but each character appears in a natural way and is woven into the life of the town (and Dae.) The mystery here involves a lot of the town’s history, allowing readers to become well acquainted with the town and its inhabitants. There are plenty of twists to this tale, and clearly more to come. I know I’ll be returning to Duck.

Rating: 7
May 2010
ISBN# 978-0-425-23475-4 (paperback)


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