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by Victoria Laurie
Signet, December 2004
304 pages
ISBN: 0451213637

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

ABBY COOPER, PSYCHIC EYE reminded me very much of Baked Alaska. Both sound impossible when described, one being a charming chicklit cozy about a psychic and the other being ice cream roasted in the oven. But both are sweet little treats -- not very nutritious, but awfully fun.

Abby is a professional psychic, doing general readings for the public but never the police, as they seem to assume that people with that amount of information about crimes tend to have been involved in committing them. So it's a shocker to find out that the stud muffin she's dating is a detective who has taken her random intuitions about a recent case very seriously.

While she is dealing with that shock, plus sorrow that her friend and partner is moving across country, she isn't focusing very well on her work. Because of this, she curtly cuts off a client who wants more attention than she's willing to give. When the client is brutally murdered, Abby wants to do what she can to help. The police don't take her powers all that seriously, but the killer does, putting her next on his personal hit-list.

Abby is the typical chicklit heroine - quirky, lonely, somewhat self-centered, and a little dim. Ordinarily I have no patience with this, but the writing won me over by the end of the first page, right at the line: "Sharon was a pretty young woman in her mid-thirties, with short blond hair, too much makeup, a recent boob job, and not a clue in sight." At that moment I felt like I was gossiping with a new friend.

And while Abby made many wrong choices, she did one thing that was so unusual that I almost cheered out loud when I read it. In all adventure books there comes a time when the heroine discovers how deeply she's in trouble. Most will try to prove their pluck by not calling for help. Abby, in a shining moment of common sense, promptly calls the police and makes arrangements to leave town. It isn't that easy, of course, but that practicality is so rare as to be refreshing. I even forgave her for following that excellent decision with a couple of much dumber plot-advancing ones.

Another thing I deeply appreciated was the handling of the psychic aspects. Skepticism is not a crime in this book; all of the psychics deal calmly with people who have trouble believing in them or who refuse to believe at all. They're refreshingly fallible too, as their intuitions are always correct, but their interpretations aren't.

The bones of the book are a little predictable, both as a romance and as a mystery, and without a body falling over every chapter most of the early tension comes from overt foreshadowing. The characters are interesting and fun without being caricatures, the plot holds together, and the romance is hot. This is the kick-off novel of the Psychic Eye series, and I can hardly wait to read the next one.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, December 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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