Monday, 8 November 2010

Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator by Janni Nell

I was badly in need of a lighthearted read: at the end of a week of vet's visits and upset, I twisted my back getting out of the car and had to retire to bed with tea and painkillers (and a nice box of chocolates  kindly provided by OH, who thought perhaps a small acknowledgement of our wedding anniversary might be in order). Was this the ideal opportunity to embark on Middlemarch? I thought not, a bit of froth was indicated, and there on Quoodle (the new Kindle), all downloaded and ready to go, was the perfect choice.

Allegra Fairweather is a sassy young woman, rather as if Jilly Cooper had teamed up with Kelley Armstrong, without quite so much sex or gore - think early Jilly Cooper, when those nice young ladies fell for brusque young men and all was neatly resolved in a couple of hundred pages without too much back-stabbing or adultery. Allegra has been invited to the shores of a Scottish loch to investigate a bleeding rose, popularly supposed to presage death. Douglas, her employer, is a nice young innkeeper, not at all brusque, and distinctly predisposed to like Allegra.  Her own feelings are complicated by the presence of Casper (sic - it is a joke), her guardian angel, who's a bit of a hunk (is that word still used?) - she knows she can't have a relationship with him, because it will prejudice his chances of finally atoning for his past transgressions, but she can't quite close her mind to his charms.

Allegra is quickly caught up in events - not only is there the bleeding rose to worry about, but an elderly villager has been having prescient dreams about drowning. Then there's the laird's wife seen dancing naked in the woods, the banshee wailing outside the pub, and the haunted cairn...the village of Furness is clearly troubled, and no one is surprised when there is a death. Our heroine, conscious that she has a slightly less-than-perfect clear-up rate (she was unlucky with the White Lady of Willingthorpe Castle, she tells us), is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, with the intermittent help of Casper.
The first person narrative means that you can't help liking Allegra - her Australian father has clearly imparted more than just genes, because she's practical, down-to-earth, and doesn't have a fit of the vapours over fishy corpses or predatory ghosts. You can see that the villagers would respond well to her warmth and open-ness, although they don't all roll over and give up their secrets at once, so some good, old-fashioned poking of noses into corners and asking awkward questions is needed.

The odd bit of Scottish folklore crops up, somewhat randomly - I'd have to admit that this isn't one of those books which takes mythology and transforms it magically into something breathtaking, but it's a lichtsome thing, goodhearted and fun, ideal for winter evenings in front of the fire. Thinking back to my comparison with Jilly Cooper, I should think girls in their teens will love it. The author's website tells us that Carina Press have accepted the second in the series and she has started work on the third.

I received this book courtesy of NetGalley, a great site for book bloggers as it makes ARC's available as eBooks. I first heard of them when I reviewed a book for the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, but since then I have occasionally directly requested titles that interest me. That first book had to be read on my laptop, but now that I have a Kindle, it's going to be a wonderful source of new books!


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed Allegra Fairweather. Thanks for taking the time to review it. I hope your back is feeling better very soon.

  2. I think this sounds like fun! The little list of events (prescient dreams and the Laird's wife :P) caught my interest. Right now I'm up for a light-hearted paranormal!

  3. This sounds like a fun book! I'm taking note of it. I hope you feel better soon too, with your back. Lovely of OH to give you chocolates!

  4. Sorry to hear of your upset week and back pain - I hope it's improved. It was our wedding anniversary too this week, no present but we did go out for a meal.

    Allegra Fairweather does sound an appealing book, just right for a lighthearted read.

    I've been wondering about getting a Kindle - it sounds as though it works well for you?

  5. Thanks for the tip about NetGalley; I've signed up! Now to find time to explore it all.

  6. Janni, good luck with progress on books 2 and 3!

    Jenclair, sometimes you need something light, don't you?

    Thanks, Susan, nearly back to normal. The chocolates went rather fast though.

    Margaret, I'm really happy with the Kindle and have a considerable TBR pile building up there, many of them free.

    Callmemadam, you're welcome!