|Wendy Jensen: The 8th House|
Publishing (Ebook), ISBN 1-58338-243-7
Jensen balances psychic abilities, horoscopes/astrology and a ghost with the rebuilding of a fractured life, the remodeling of a rundown house and a budding romance between wounded souls. She swirls these events around the hunt for a serial killer who works his way through the zodiac, one victim at a time. While those balls whiz through the air, Jensen's protagonist writes a mystery novel. The novel within a novel presents a surreal juxtaposition of fiction and reality within a fictional setting. And it works!
Following a tragic accident two years ago, reluctant apprentice psychic Zoe Ann Zignego (ZZ) reads minds, sees and talks to ghosts and visits real murders in her dreams, standing between a serial murderer and his next victim. ZZ flees the notoriety she gained in Minneapolis where she helped homicide detective Larry Larsen solve murders. She lands in Elliston, Mo. There she seeks a normal life and emotional healing.
ZZ buys a dying house inhabited by a ghost. In an effort to raise money to pay for house restoration, ZZ (a writer of tales based on her murder-haunted dreams) begins a new novel. While readers focus on the serial killer and ZZ's novel about the serial killer, another murder surfaces. ZZ pursues answers buried in the town's genealogy files.
If that isn't enough to hold a reader's interest, add ZZ's budding romance and several interesting and well-developed minor characters. Characters like the African-American contractor and his reverse-racist son who find doors slamming in their faces as Wilbur fights to keep these "coloreds" out of his house.
The weakest storyline in Jensen's multi-layered tale revolves around the ghost, Wilbur. Wilbur waffles between crotchety and horny old fart, and bigoted KKK member, maybe worse. The ghost, a caricature of comic relief, doesn't seem as funny once you get to know his past. But, the humor effectively balances the psychotic murder element.
The 8th House remains strong to the end. Where some books lose momentum in the middle, Jensen's offers a reprieve, switching temporarily from studying grotesque murder scenes to repairing homes and lives. Her work resists the comfortable niches carved out by print publishers and combines elements of suspense, fantasy, comedy, murder and mystery into one genuinely enjoyable plot embellished with a particularly well-researched background. Readers, who want more than the usual murder mystery, and long for a well-written e-book, should check out Jensen's first (but not last, I hope) psychic suspense murder mystery.
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