Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mystery Book Review: High Crimes on the Magical Plane by Kris Neri

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of High Crimes on the Magical Plane by Kris Neri. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

High Crimes on the Magical Plane by Kris Neri

A Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty Mystery

Red Coyote Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9766733-5-5 (0976673355)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9766733-5-4 (9780976673354)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $16.95

Review: Kris Neri introduces psychic (but not really) Samantha Brennan and FBI agent (but oh so much more) Annabelle Haggerty, a rather engaging if unusual pair of crime solvers, in the paranormal mystery High Crimes on the Magical Plane.

Samantha ekes out a living as a psychic in reality-impaired Los Angeles, but she'd really like to move on to some place where her talents would be more appreciated, like Sedona Arizona. But until she can save enough for a move, she dresses the part and sees the future for a small list of clients, which includes Dodi Drake, the widow of a former US Vice President. While on her way to visit Dodi, she sees an SUV filled with ... clowns? Not being a true psychic, but able to quickly make a connection, she believes the clowns may have something to do with another resident in Dodi's building, the actress Molly Claire. Molly had recently been in the news when she unsuccessfully tried to get a restraining order against a group of stalkers, which the press dubbed "Molly's clowns". Fearing the worst, she sneaks into Molly's apartment to find it trashed, Molly missing, and a dead body stuffed in an armoire. Seizing the opportunity to "see the future" before it happens (i.e. before the news gets out), but also do her civic duty, she rushes to the FBI to report her "vision". Assigned to hear her story is agent Annabelle who immediately recognizes Samantha for the fraud she is, but also trusts her instincts that the "vision" is real. She too seizes on her own opportunity: as a Celtic goddess, Annabelle believes she can use Samantha to help her solve the case without revealing who she really is.

The story moves along briskly, alternating between the two principal characters' points of view. For Samantha, it's a first person narrative, which suits her perfectly. Her character is edgy, sarcastic, and cynical -- but also self-aware. "Though I generally believed corners wouldn't exist if we weren't meant to cut them, I decided tonight I had to play my act straight. Well, pretty straight -- after all, it was still an act." For Annabelle, it's a third person narrative, which also plays well into her intellectual and reserved nature -- as reserved as a Celtic goddess who's also an FBI agent can be. And though paranormal mysteries must, almost by definition, stretch the bounds of credulity, the plot here seems overly convoluted, far-fetched even. Still, the pairing of Samantha and Annabelle, in a rather remarkable way, keeps High Crimes on the Magical Plane grounded and, if you will, credible. It is an interesting and entertaining debut for this series.

Special thanks to Red Coyote Press for providing an ARC of High Crimes on the Magical Plane for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Imagine the surprise of scam psychic, Samantha Brennan, when she encounters the real thing: an honest-to-heavens Celtic goddess, hidden beneath the steely exterior of FBI Special Agent Annabelle Haggerty. Yet Annabelle's magical powers might not be enough when America's sweet and sexy movie star, Molly Claire, is made the centerpiece of a gangland siege that brings the City of Angels to its knees. And if Annabelle and her family of deities are no match for the Demon of Darkness that she believes is masterminding LA's own Armageddon, what chance does a poor little fake like Samantha have?

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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