7.24.2013

Delia's Shadow, by Jaime Lee Moyer

I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. It will be published 17 September 2013.

Delia's Shadow
Jaime Lee Moyer's book, Delia's Shadow, reads like a blend of several different genres. There's a love story (romance), a race to find a serial killer (mystery), attempts to deal with actual ghosts that want justice (horror/contemporary fantasy), and it's set in 1915 in San Francisco (historical fiction). This blend is what led me to request the book but, I have to be honest, Moyer doesn't quite manage a believable balance between them.

The book opens with Delia Martin returning to San Francisco after two years in New York to be maid of honor for her best friend, Sadie. Delia is also coming home because one of the ghosts she often sees just will not leave her alone. Shadow wants something, and she'll haunt Delia until she gets it. Meanwhile, Moyer also gives narrator duties to Gabe Ryan, a police detective, who is being tormented by a sadistic killer who keeps sending him letters. Gabe's partner, Jack, is marrying Sadie, so Gabe and Delia soon meet and discover a mutual attraction for each other. Delia gets some help from a local psychic to deal with her ghost. That ghost turns out to be a victim of the killer Gabe is chasing.

The mystery aspect of this book is rather good. Hunting down a killer before forensic anthropology and advanced crime scene analysis keeps things suspenseful. But when you have help from "the other side," sometimes it reads a bit like cheating. Even though the killer eludes Gabe and his compatriots for a long time, they still manage to capture him rather easily. For me, what really didn't work, was the historical aspects of the book. The love story was sweet and I liked the characters. But I can't help but think that, in 1915, people would have been incredibly skeptical about psychics, letting women help identify and find a serial killer, etc. etc. There's only a bit of token resistance when Delia and her psychic friend, Dora, reveal that they can see ghosts before those characters knuckle under and just go with it.

What makes a genrebender work, I think, is when an author makes the parts that could be backed up by research as real as possible. That way, I'm not in a skeptical mood when I get to the flights of fancy. When I read historical fiction, I can't help but match up what I'm reading with what I know about history. I rather doubt that I'm the only one who does this. This book would have been better if things had been more difficult for all the characters. There should have been more hurdles and misunderstandings and terror. At least, there should had been for a reader like me to enjoy it more.

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