Reviewed by Jeanne
Recent widow Odessa Jones is trying to make ends meet by working at a realty office. It’s stressful work, especially for those who aren’t the top sellers. Charlie Risko runs the place, and he enjoys making people squirm. His volatile temper flares up on a too regular basis, leading to tirades and threats against employees. There’s also the undercurrent that some of his business transactions might not be quite on the up and up, to say the least. And he certainly has an eye for the ladies. Sometimes that even includes his wife.
So it’s not really a surprise when Charlie ends up dead. There’s no shortage of suspects, given Charlie’s abusive behavior and his penchant for unsavory deals. The problem is that Dessa’s nice young co-worker Harley is arrested on suspicion of murder and she can’t believe that he is guilty. There are a lot of others who had just as much motive and opportunity. Besides, Dessa sometimes has a sort of sixth sense about people. Call it a glimmer, an aura, but she occasionally sees things—colors, feelings-- that give her insight into a person’s emotional state. It’s not sure-fire: Dessa certainly regards it with distrust but there does seem to be a bit of truth to it. And it doesn’t seem to indicate that Harley is a murderer. But if not Harley, then who?
I found this book to be quite enjoyable. I liked that Odessa isn’t an impulsive twenty something, but a woman struggling to put her life back together after the loss of her beloved husband. She’s methodical and knows when to ask for help, such as seeking advice from ex-cop Lennox who runs a diner. As a first in series book, the author handled the set-up and character introductions smoothly, without bogging down. Dessa’s lively aunts brought a bit of fun to the book with their unwanted advice and I enjoyed learning more about her co-workers. I hope some of them will show up in subsequent books.
The plot was well done, and the hint of the supernatural was appropriately handled—in other words, Dessa put the clues together without otherworldly intervention. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy having some otherworldly touches in cozy mysteries but I also like for the protagonist to figure things out. I liked the possibility of a romance, and of course I adored Juniper the cat who serves as comforter and companion. It’s a treat to have a genuine adult sleuth handle a case, someone who understands that life is not fair and bad things can and do happen to good people. I’m looking forward to Dessa’s next adventure, but alas! A Fatal Glow isn’t due out until February, 2022.