by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Tails, You Lose. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
After a less-than-successful career as a television journalist in Florida, Lee Barrett (formerly Maralee Kowalski) returns to her home of Salem, Massachusetts to apply as a newscaster with WICH-TV. She loses out on that position, instead becoming a late-night horror-movie psychic host. When that job is eliminated due to some murderous scandals, Lee volunteers as a guest instructor at the new Tabitha Trumbull Academy of the Arts. A former department store, the Trumbull renovations are nearly completed when handyman Bill Sullivan disappears right out of the basement on Christmas Day.
While the police are unable to explain how Bill Sullivan’s body would find its final resting place on the waterfront, “Tabby’s” director Rupert Pennington is far more concerned that the school open on time. Lee soon finds herself in charge of a rather rag-tag group of six students intent on making their mark in television: the daughter of the local tavern owner, its modeling bartender, an oversized cowboy, and undersized ex-jockey, an aspiring witch, and a beautiful and secretive blonde. As their first group project, the class plans to film documentary on the Trumbull’s historical origins, including the legendary ghost believed to inhabit its attic.
After seeing a vision of her parents’ plane crash when she was a child, Lee turned off her psychic gift to see into the future. Her Aunt Ibby would rather that Lee keep it permanently on the “off” switch, but with encouragement from her cat-maybe-familiar O’Ryan, as well as the witch River North who got the WICH job, Lee tenuously dips into her skills to solve the mystery of the Trumbull ghost.
Lee’s experience in television journalism proves to be as helpful and as fascinating as her burgeoning psychic gifts, especially when it comes to lassoing in her wandering students. She’s urged by her boyfriend, Detective Pete Mondello, to take an online criminology course, and he charmingly instigates her amateur detective habit by gifting Lee a copy of the Official Nancy Drew Handbook. This, and her index-card methodology of organizing clues, will have her tracking down both the mystery of the Trumbull ghost as well as the one residing beneath the store itself.
Once again author Perry takes the time to fully develop her many characters, while laying clues of the main mystery along the way. Semi-retired reference librarian Aunt Ibby utilizes her ninja research skills to help the class and the police uncover the secrets of the Trumbull, while River North provides a Wiccan perspective. While the Salem setting ensures a little witchy involvement, the motivations behind the murder are far more mundane, making sure conventional mystery lovers will enjoy the novel. Few will be able to predict the true culprit responsible for the crimes, but all readers will enjoy the blend of humor, interesting characters, and clever dialogue.
To enter to win a copy of Tails, You Lose, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Tails,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 11, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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