Christine's Reviews > Mind Over Murder

Mind Over Murder by Allison Kingsley
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's review
Sep 09, 2011

really liked it
Read in September, 2011

Clara Quinn has recently returned from New York to her hometown of Finn’s Harbor, Maine. She is reluctantly helping her close friend and cousin Stephanie Quinn Dowd with her bookstore. When you walk through the door, it’s obvious “The Raven’s Nest” isn’t an ordinary bookstore. There is a stuffed raven perched on a light fixture, a life-sized figure of a fortune teller with her crystal ball, and colored crystals hanging from the ceiling. While the store does carry occult books, it also sells cookbooks, craft books, and classic literature. However, many of the town’s residents, especially Ana Jordan, the vocal owner of a neighboring shop, focus only on the occult and want the store to be closed down. Clara, who has psychic abilities she tries to ignore, can’t shake the feeling of dread she feels each time she goes into the store’s backroom. The sense of foreboding Clara has been feeling is proven correct when Ana is found dead in the bookstore’s storeroom, apparently killed by a bust of Edgar Allan Poe that had been sculpted by Stephanie’s assistant Molly.

Clara and Stephanie are very different, but both likeable characters, good friends, and make a good team. I like the way the book is structured to tell part of the story from Clara’s point of view and part from Stephanie’s. This provides a better understanding of the feelings of both characters and insights into their friendship that wouldn’t be possible with only one narrator.

There are many would-be suspects in the book, which keeps the reader guessing. I like the small-town setting of the book, which is contrasted to some of Clara’s descriptions of her life in New York. While there isn’t much doubt that Molly must be innocent of Ana’s murder, she isn’t the most likeable character, especially when she sulks and lies to Stephanie, the one person that is really standing behind her innocence. Although Molly gets some leeway due to her youth, her behavior doesn’t make her the most sympathetic character.

I also like the way the author sets up Stephanie and Clara’s involvement in the investigation, as well as Clara using the psychic gifts that she tries to deny. Since Molly is outspoken in her dislike of Ana, she becomes local police chief Dan Petersen’s top suspect. When Dan doesn’t seem to be doing much investigating, Stephanie convinces Clara that they are Molly’s only hope. However, they soon discover they don’t know the first thing about conducting a proper murder investigation. Since they aren’t getting anywhere with their questions, Clara feels she has no choice but to use her psychic gift they call “The Quinn Sense”. There is a big build-up throughout the book about Clara’s gift of reading people’s hidden thoughts and getting momentary glimpses into the future. It ends up a huge disappointment to the characters and the reader that when Clara finally agrees to use her gifts when talking to possible suspects, it doesn’t do much good! The two young women desperately resort to a lame plan to set a trap for the murderer. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable, the plan itself or the fact it works, although not in the way the two cousins intended.

The small-town Maine setting of the book will appeal to fans of Ellery Adams’ Books by the Bay series. While it doesn’t have as many details about being a psychic, readers who enjoy Victoria Laurie may also want to give "Mind Over Murder" a try. It is definitely worthy of 3 1/2 - 4 stars. The addition of more scenes with Clara using “The Quinn Sense” would add excitement to this promising new series.

This review was originally written for the "Season for Romance" E-Zine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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