by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of Victoria Laurie’s latest Psychic Eye mystery A Panicked Premonition, along with an interesting guest post by Victoria about how she came up with some of her book ideas. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of A Panicked Premonition, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
A Panicked Premonition: A Psychic Eye Mystery By Victoria Laurie
Review by Cynthia Chow
It’s amazing to see how far Abigail Cooper has come since her first appearance in 2004’s Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye. Fourteen books ago Abby had a small psychic reading practice and was a self-declared P.I., as in Psychic Intuitive. Since then Abby has become a true professional private investigator in Austin, partnered in a practice with her best friend Candice Fusco and taking on clients that include the FBI. It of course helps that both Abby’s and Candice’s husbands are FBI agents and business partners themselves, running a private security agency now specializing in high-tech safe rooms. It’s that connection that has Abby and Candice involved in multiple murders when the home of one of Safe Chambers’ clients is breached and the residents and staff ruthlessly murdered. What makes it personal is the simultaneous disappearance of Dave McKenzie, who is not just Abby and her husband Dutch’s friend, but part-owner and contractor of their panic rooms.
A scheduled meeting and bloody handprint places Dave on the scene at the time of the murders, but Abby refuses to believe that she could ever have been so off about someone’s character. Dave’s connection with Safe Chambers also opens them up to disastrous litigation, giving them even more motivation to track him down and prove his innocence. As clues fall into place, their path leads towards another client, one whose predatory wiles places right in the middle of the chaos. Abby’s gifts are impressive, granting her the ability to tell truth from lies and providing startling insight into one’s predominant thoughts. Abby is not omniscient though, and the turbulence of Dave’s emotions cloud her senses and only indicate that he is in the middle of danger. Using her intuition and faith in Dave, Abby and her friends follow of trail of international intrigue, corporate espionage, and multiple betrayals.
This being the fifteenth of an always compelling and intricately plotted mystery series, it makes sense that Abby’s investigation operates on a very professional and practical level. She and Candice are canny detectives who use modern investigative techniques to lead them through an ever more elaborate maze of crimes. Yet those interludes where Abby is able to utilize her psychic intuition to dazzle investigators and guide clients often prove to be the highlight of the novel, especially when they slap down doubters mocking her gifts.
Since the previous novel separated the women from their spouses, it’s a delight to see them all back together again, navigating through their complicated relationships and the overprotectiveness that often goes both ways. The humor starts the novel off on a light note, introducing a brand-new Paleo-eating, exercise fanatic Abby whose healthy body focuses her psychic skills. While the tone darkens as the crimes intensify and the stakes are raised, Abby and Candice continue to leaven the novel through their strong friendship and good-natured teasing. The combination of Abby’s intuition and supportive law enforcement officers delivers a surprising and unpredictable conclusion to an extremely complex case. Professional psychic Victoria Laurie gives readers yet another satisfying and entertaining mystery, one that relies on classic detection skills sparked by a little paranormal fun.
By Victoria Laurie
Years ago, while sitting across from the professional psychic who was also my mentor, a man named Kevyn, I listened to him tell the most fascinating story about having been hired the weekend before to “perform” at a wedding. Kevyn told me the affair involved the joining of two large Italian families with lots and lots of guests, and he’d been there with another friend and psychic who’d also been hired to work the event.
Now, about two hours into the event, the curtain partitioning off the area where Kevyn was doing readings parted, and in walked a nondescript, fiftyish-looking man. Kevyn greeted him, directed him to sit, and after focusing briefly on the man’s energy, he suddenly blurted out, “Ohmigod! You’ve killed someone.”
Kevyn told me that those words had simply tumbled out of his mouth; he didn’t even realize the full weight of what he was saying until they’d been spoken. And as he was blinking furiously, wondering what to do or say next, another sentence tumbled out of his mouth. “You’ve actually killed lots of people. You’re a hitman!”
A stunned, tense silence followed until the gentleman across from him leaned in, looked Kevyn dead in the eye and said, “Hey…you’re pretty good.” And that was how my mentor inspired a really good plot and the basis for the second book, Better Read than Dead, in my long-running series, The Psychic Eye Mysteries.
If you’re unfamiliar with my work, the series is built around a professional psychic named Abigail “Abby” Cooper, who, for fifteen books now has solved all kinds of murders and mysteries. Her latest adventure, “A Panicked Premonition,” was released this past Fourth of July.
With regard to the Psychic Eye Mysteries, if there’s one thing that I’m perhaps proudest of, it’s that no two books in the series have been alike. They’ve all held their own unique plots and twisty endings because, probably like you, I’m a huge fan of twisty endings.
More than simply writing a good book though, I want to make you guess, then second guess, then guess again, then audibly gasp when the big reveal comes along. I remember once laying out for my editor the very elaborate plot for the thirteenth book in the series, and her saying to me, “You know, Victoria, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single book.”
I was all, “What?! You’re kidding! I don’t?!” ?
I’d never considered not coming up with something unique and twisty. And even though she basically gave me a free pass to dial in a softball…I don’t know…I just can’t do it. I kinda think it’s my job to think up new ways to kill people and have some fictional crook allllllllllmost get away with it. It’s fun for me. (wink)
Truthfully, though, it’s not quite as hard as it looks. When people ask me where I get my ideas, I struggle to answer because the ideas come from everywhere. It’s a bit like asking a musician where he gets the notes to play and write his music. They’re in the sound of the wind, the bubble of a brook, the bark of a dog, the creak of an old tree. They’re in birdsong, traffic, noisy restaurants, playgrounds, and office buildings…he or she is literally surrounded by notes that first inspire then link together to form a chain of music that feels like it comes from the soul.
It’s exactly like that for writers, too. We’re surrounded by characters and snippets of scenes that eventually show up on the page, and plots come from all sorts of things we see, read, and (over)hear. For instance, for the plot of A Panicked Premonition I happened to take a shortcut one morning on my way to the gym that wound me past a newly constructed house with a gorgeous modern design.
And after admiring the house, I will admit that my first thoughts traveled not to who lived there, but about how to break into there? I know, I know. That’s probably somewhat creepy to read, but the honest truth is that I’ve written twenty-seven mysteries over the past fifteen years and that kind of intensity will train your brain to look at life from a…shall we say, “different” angle.
Anyway, once I’ve got that first note, the rest simply comes from joining other ideas together to form an overall plot. It’s a bit like feeling a note of fear as you walk along a familiar wooded trail on your morning walk which is normally crowded, but that morning seems abandoned. Then followed by the creepy feeling you get from a stranger who stands a little too close to you in an elevator, coupled with the realization that he’s not wearing a security badge in your very secure office building and continuing on until you’ve formed a chain of interesting components.
With this book it was playing with the thought of what I’d discover once I broke into a house like that, and if the house had been designed to include a safe room should a home invasion take place, and from there the rest simply unfolded.
I think that’s the thing I love most about storytelling; it’s the taking all of those separate, interesting notes and pulling them together to form something compelling. Something that makes you want to sing along. Something that gets you to keep turning those pages long after bedtime.
It’s a really satisfying way to make a living, I tell ya.
To enter to win a copy of A Panicked Premonition, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “panicked,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 12, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
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