Book Review: Freak Show

I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. I read every single Nancy Drew mystery, then moved on to the Hardy Boys. Sweet Valley High. Trixie Belden. I’ve always loved a good mystery, but now I like my mysteries with a little more bite and darkness to them than I did when I was younger. Freak Show, Episode 1 of the Nightshade Cases is reminiscent of all of those mysteries I loved when I was a kid with a whole bunch more darkness thrown in for good measure.

It’s written a bit in the style of a screenplay and I could see this making an excellent TV show. Gerri, Ray, and Kinsey are longtime friends who’ve all found themselves in Silver City, California, drawn there through offers of employment they couldn’t resist.

Through the first few chapters, we meet each woman, and discover that they all carry a unique ability. Gerri gets gut feelings that help her solve crimes. Ray can tell what’s killed someone. Kinsey can gently assert her will on others.

The book opens with a transsexual starlet murdered. Gerri catches the case. She doesn’t want to believe that there’s anything weird going on. In fact, Gerri doesn’t want to believe that there’s anything weird in the world at all. Kinsey and Ray aren’t so resistant. They’ve both long known that they’re special and they want Gerri to admit it too.

I won’t give away much more of the story, because this is a short novel and I want you to read it for yourself. I will say that it’s worth your time. Like any new series, there are some minor hiccups here and there with the setup, but all in all, Ms. Larsen does a good job giving the reader a little bit of information at a time, only what they need to know. The mystery of the three friends builds slowly, though the mystery of who killed Ainsling moves faster (this is a good thing). Along the way we meet several supporting characters including Gerri’s annoying partner, her fatherly captain, and Kinsey’s grandmother.

None of the supplemental characters feel flat or unnecessary. They all add to the story. Like any good mystery, there’s some misdirection, some misunderstandings, and some mistakes (by the characters). The story moves quickly and is resolved satisfactorily. There’s no major cliffhanger here, but the last few pages do open up a whole lot of questions that make me excited for the rest of the series.

Overall, this is a very solid beginning to a series. There were some minor editing issues, a few avenues that could have been explored further, but still quite enjoyable. I’ll be reading more.

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