Monday, 8 November 2010
Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator by Janni Nell
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!