Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Touch Of Gold - Joyce and Jim Lavene

A Touch Of Gold
A Missing Pieces Mystery
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley Prime Crime

The residents of tiny Duck, North Carolina, are very proud of their history.  Some of it might be slightly unsavory, but the residents own both the good and the not-so-good aspects.  Small as the place is, it has its own historical museum, full of various bits of seafaring lore, pirate gold, and legends.  Max Caudle is the town historian, and loves the town and the museum.  Dae O’Donnell, mayor of the town, has just finished overseeing an elementary school field trip at the museum.  The kids and teachers are out of the museum, and Dae is just about to return to the museum, when she’s blinded by a flash of light.  The next thing she knows, she’s waking up in the hospital.
She learns that, unbelievable as it sounds, the museum exploded.  The authorities are on the scene, trying to determine how it could have happened.  What they discover is that the propane tank at the side of the museum exploded when it was hit.  With a cannonball.  Instantly, residents begin speculating about the reappearance of their local pirate ghost, although why he’d want to destroy the museum, with Max inside it, remains a mystery.
Dae has known all her life that she has a gift.  She can find things people have lost.  The explosion left her with a mild concussion and a giant leap forward with her gift.  Now, when she touches inanimate objects, she can see how they came into being.  Mostly it’s boring manufacturing and shipping information, but some items are imbued with great emotional energy.  Her gift is hardly a secret: townspeople accept it and come to her often, looking for lost items.  This makes a nice change of pace from the ‘secret that must be hidden lest everyone think she’s crazy’ scenario.  It leaves the authors free to develop the mystery aspects of the story, while allowing Dae to deal realistically with her newly expanded gift.

This is the second in this series (following A TIMELY VISION) and the authors do a very nice job of building on local lore.  The subplot about a famous historical figure maybe – or maybe not – having lived in Duck is woven into the main story seamlessly.  The main plot is grounded in local legends and present-day lives, and the mystery ends up being quite a bit more far-flung that one might expect.  While I admit I had the bad guy figured out quite early on, the story is involving and the characters engaging.  If you enjoy a bit of psychic flair with your mysteries, this series should not be missed.
Rating: 7
March 2011
ISBN#  978-0-425-24024-3 (paperback)


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