My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this book from Escape with Dollycas’s blog which in no way influenced my review. I wanted to read this one because I love Salem, Massachusetts. It’s further along in a series than I usually like to jump in but I had no troubles doing so. Lee Barret, former TV reporter and now teacher of news production, is a psychic. She’s dating a detective, Pete which is the best set up for cozies for me. I mostly only like a cozy if the amateur is working with the cops and Lee’s method was even better as she mostly let’s Pete be the cop instead of constantly undermining his detecting abilities.
Lee’s current class is made up of several people including identical twin cops from Boston (now retired) a few young ladies and a woman, Dorothy, who has been living off the grid in Alaska who’s come to Salem to prove her sister, Emily didn’t accidentally die of an overdose of wine and sleeping pills. While the class is working on Hilda’s idea of adding a Day of the Dead celebration in Salem’s graveyards to the Halloween time regime, Dorothy asks Lee for help in getting her sister’s case reopened.
Quickly, Lee begins to have visions relating to Emily’s death. Emily worked for Happy Shores realty, run by Happy and Trudy Shores who swore Emily was at a company party in her honor the night she died. Emily seemed to be dating another coworker who disappeared after they were out taking soil samples on property that the Shores sold to make a new mall. Pete starts to believe Lee and Dorothy that maybe Emily had been killed when her friend is thought dead in Florida where he’d been transferred to True Shores reality.
Before long someone is following Lee and then the dead body shows up. Over all I enjoyed the characters. It wasn’t much of a mystery in many ways. I knew the who, the how and the why pretty much from the get go so in that respect it reminded me of an episode of Columbo. It was still a fun trip. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this.
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In/Spectre 1 by Kyo Shirodaira
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought In/Spectre sounded interesting because I do like paranormal stories and the main character is a disabled girl, something you don’t see all that often. Kotoko is a seventeen year old girl who spends a lot of time in the hospital where, two years ago, she met Kuro a young man (five years older than her) who visits his dying cousin often. She has a massive crush on him but he’s happily engaged.
Two years down the road, she’s now seventeen and he’s no longer engaged to Saki. She decides to make her move. As they talk, there is a bit of back and forth in time and we see their history. Kotoko had been kidnapped by Youkai (spirits) when she was eleven and they gave her back minus one leg and one eye (non-spoilery, it’s on the back blurb). Kuro pretends he doesn’t believe in most of it until he relates why his engagement to Saki ended and she learns why all the youkai, with whom she’s in constant contact with (the why would be a spoiler) are afraid of Kuro (without being too spoilery, it’s pretty messed up). By the end of the chapter, the two of them are confronting bad youkai and helping the good.
It’s actually a very long chapter one making up two-thirds of the volume. Chapter two is another couple years down the road and we pick up with Saki who is now a traffic cop. Saki has been hearing of a specter haunting a stretch of road. She doesn’t want to admit she believes in ghosts and youkai but she can’t escape what she saw the day she ended it with Kuro. One of the detectives, who has a crush on her, wants her help. Saki, still hung up on Kuro, doesn’t want anything to do with it. The supernatural has other ideas for her.
I enjoyed this. While a bit loli and girl for my tastes, Kotoko is fairly charming. She’s tough, not letting her disabilities get in her way. (love her cane whose handle is a sleeping cat with its tail spiraling down it. Heck I want that cane.) Kuro’s history is interesting. Even Saki, who’s much more mundane at this point, is a good character. There are some little things I didn’t like, like Kotoko using the analogy of it didn’t hurt as much as getting deflowered when asked about the beating she took from a spirit (to be honest the other character was like WTH). Was that a ham handed way of saying she’s Kuro’s lover? Is it imagination? Is she weird (she does blurt out other weird stuff too). I’m not a fan of the up-skirt shots. I really wish modern manga would move past that. It’s insulting.
And something I should have done a long time ago, here’s a shout out to Kodansha comics for giving us translator notes at the back. Far too few English translation publishers do that and I love those details. And oh, this manga is a translation of Kyo Shirodaira’s novel.
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