07 May 2016

Forever Road (Peri Jean Mace Ghost Thrillers, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Peri Jean Mace’s knack for seeing ghosts made growing up in her rural East Texas hometown a living hell. Now an adult with her own business, she thinks she’s finally got things under control.

But the murder of Peri Jean’s trailer trash cousin, Rae, forces Peri Jean to face long buried issues. She owes her cousin a favor from beyond the grave and must solve her murder. The more Peri Jean pokes around, the more she realizes everyone in Gaslight City has something to hide.

Uncovering the wrong secret will send Peri Jean straight into the arms of a killer.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Long Roads and Dark Ends Press, 2016.

How acquired: Given to me by the author's publicist for review.

First line: An inhuman shriek sliced through the pre-dawn darkness, stabbing at the haze of sleep coating my brain.

My thoughts: Peri Jean Mace is an interesting character. She can see ghosts, a condition which caused her mother to commit her to a mental institution as a young child, where the word schizophrenia was bandied about. She's not the first heroine I've read about who has the ability to see ghosts, but I believe she is the first who has not embraced this particular trait. Seeing ghosts has caused Peri to become an outcast in the little town of Gaslight City, where everyone is aware of it, whether they believe it's true or believe she's crazy, but pretend they don't know anything. Even in her own home, her ability is never talked about, as if it doesn't exist. It was a different take on the “ghost whisperer” genre, and a welcome one.

The story starts out a little slow,with Peri's cousin, Rae, shrieking up a storm and yelling at Chase, her flavor of the month who is also Peri's best friend. Peri lives with her grandmother, and Rae lives in a travel trailer parked on grandma's property. When Peri hears the shouting she flies out to the trailer to shush them before her grandmother is woken up, and in exchange for Rae shutting up Peri agrees to owe her an unspecified favor. It was all a little melodramatic, and the favor for silence a little silly.

But Rae cashes in that favor pretty quickly when Peri walks into her trailer later and finds her cousin's been murdered. And then Rae's ghost appears, and Peri realizes that Rae wants and expects her to find the killer.

From there the story picks up nicely. Dean Turgeau is introduced, Gaslight City's newest deputy, and he and Peri clash from the beginning, especially since Chase is suspect number one and Dean is determined to prove it, while Peri is determined to defend her friend. Which becomes more difficult when Chase pulls a dissapearing act. Dean brought to mind (to my mind, anyway) Aiden Quinn's Detective Hallett from the movie Practical Magic.

I loved watching Peri and Dean dance around each other, and I also enjoyed Peri's interactions with her childhood friend turned nemesis Hannah. As Peri gets deeper and deeper into her investigations there were quite a few twists, and the mystery was unpredictable. I didn't figure out who the murderer was until she did.

A nicely written whodunit, which got a bit violent during the big reveal, but with a satisfying conclusion. 

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