Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words
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“Lee Fishman arrived in Philadelphia as a college student, fell in love with city living and stayed. Even after traveling to Italy, Greece, France, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, England, and other beautiful countries she still can't think of anywhere else she'd rather live. OK, maybe Paris.
Lee's worked as an archaeology technician, candy-maker, teacher, tour guide, actor, psychic, career counselor and librarian. Along the way she found her true calling, writing. She particularly enjoys unraveling mysteries and in her next life, in addition to being six feet tall, she'd love to be a detective.”
During a slow housing market, real-estate broker, Margo, earns extra money as a psychic. She operates as part of a small group of other “gifted” people—hence the title. The story follows her into trouble as her psychic talents get her embroiled in a dangerous scheme.
After reading a fair number of indie titles for review for Al’s site, patterns start appearing. Sadly, this novel fits a pattern I’ve written reviews about in the past. In summary: the premise is attractive, the sample gets me engaged, but the execution falls short because the author doesn’t stay locked on the main plot.
The idea of a medium, Margo, as a central character worked brilliantly in my opinion. She is an engaging character with an interesting backstory. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the various forms of psychic abilities—dowsing, Tarot, etc. And the manner in which Margot gets pulled out of her ordinary life and into a dubious venture is totally plausible.
But then the story gets bogged down in a long series of side events, many of which have little to do with the main plot. We experience a repetitive series of psychic tests. Characters start behaving strangely without much explanation of why that’s important. We join Margo at her daughter’s graduation. We go on boat trips with no apparent conclusion except for sea sickness. Certain objects cause Margo psychic panic, but it’s not quite clear why or how that’s important—simply too many diversions.
In conjunction with this change of pace, the writing becomes more passive until the novel ends up as a narrative telling and becomes a tough slog.
I think there’s a good novel hiding in these pages, but in its current incarnation, it didn’t keep me engaged.
Rating: *** Three stars