Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: Stolen Hearts by Jane Tesh

 David Randall used to be a lively, carefree fellow with a talent for finding things. But his perfect family life was derailed when he lost his little daughter Lindsey in a car crash. Thrown out by his second wife and wanting to leave a dead-end detective agency to start his own, he reluctantly accepts his psychic friend Camden’s invitation to stay in his boarding house. Here he meets Kary Ingram; Ellin Belton, Camden’s intensely ambitious girlfriend; and an ever-changing assortment of Camden’s tenants, all searching for a home and family.When his client Melanie Gentry hires him to prove her great-grandmother was murdered by her lover, John Burrows Ashford, over authorship of “Patchwork Melodies,” Randall sets out to find a connection between this and the murder of Alfred Bennet as well as the murder of a Smithsonian director preparing a new PBS documentary on early American music. Things become complicated when Ashford’s spirit parks himself in Cam and refuses to leave until Randall proves Ashford’s innocence.

David Randall is living in his car.  His second wife has kicked him out, he's employed at a dead end detective agency that he wants to leave.  His daughter died in a car accident.  He wakes up in his car one night to find the police outside at an elderly musician's house who has been murdered.  Randall tries to help investigate and the police tell him to butt out.

Randall gets taken in by his best friend, Camden, who is psychic.  His house is full of a rag-tag bunch of people, particularly Katy, whom Randall seems to fall in love with at first sight.  So, he starts his own detective agency with an office in the house and lands his first job.  His client wants him to prove that her great-grandmother was murdered over the authorship of some old folk songs.  Things really get strange as Camden is possessed by the spirit of the alledged murderer.

Stolen Hearts is a solid paranormal mystery that is very character driven.  I think the strongest thing about this book is the unique personalities Ms. Tesh introduces us to; alien abductees, psychics, spirits, pushy girlfriends, and good ol' country boys.  They're all fun to follow and see what happens next.

The main character, David Randall is likeable.  Ms. Tesh seems to be patterning him after the stereotypical wise-cracking private detective.  Sometimes he's really funny, sometimes he misses the mark a bit. 

A few things I found lacking in the book - the side storyline of Randall's finding objects for the rich couple felt fairly superfluous, and the issue of his pain over losing his daughter could have been fleshed out more for the readers.  Also, while I do believe in love at first sight in life, I don't so much in literature.  It felt strange to me how David's initial attraction to Katy felt obsession-like, then suddenly it's true love.

That said, I really did enjoy reading this book.  The storyline was unique, although it wasn't too hard to figure out "whodunit."  Randall and his friends were likeable, seeing them all band together just made me feel good.

I give this book 3 Bookworms.


Pages:               256
Publisher:Poisoned Pen Press
Pub Date:10/04/2011

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