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A Spirited Gift
Missing Pieces Mysteries, No 3
Joyce and Jim Lavene

Berkley Prime Crime
December 2011/ 978-0-425-24502-6
Mystery / Cozy / Paranormal

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Dae O'Donnell is the mayor of the tiny town of Duck, North Carolina. She loves her job, and the people who live in Duck. She also has a gift shop, named Missing Pieces. The name is most apropos because Dae has a gift for finding lost things. She sells various small treasured items and as she soon learns, the items have a palpable history of their own. She·s not a medium, nor a psychic, but when she holds the hand of someone who has lost something, and the person concentrates on the missing item, she is able to tap into another dimension and find it.

Her gift has become more complex of late, after a near-death experience several months earlier. Now she is an empath who feels the emotions connected to items that she touches. It is as if she sees and feels things through the soul of the person who owned the item. This can be problematic and overwhelming.

Dae is hosting a Mayor's Conference weekend held at The Blue Whale Inn. Things start out well, but a storm brews up that is much more severe than had been predicted. When the storm blows over, Duck looks like a war zone. It will take days, if not weeks,". to get the power back on, the streets cleared and buildings repaired. While looking over the damage around the grounds of the inn, Dae comes across the body of another mayor. Mayor Sandi Foxx is trapped under the ruins of a shed that blew apart. The shed falling on her isn·t what killed her though; it was murder.

Not only does Dae get involved in the murder investigation, she happens upon another victim after one of her visions. On top of that, she's getting to know her father who has quite the unsavory past. Through the ghost of the pirate Rafe Masterson into the mix and Dae finds her mind reeling; especially when it comes to light that she is likely related to the scallywag. She has trouble confiding in her grandfather about her newfound relationship with her father. Dae also keeps some secrets from her boyfriend, Kevin, owner of The Blue Whale Inn. Will she learn to communicate and not hide things in time to keep both relationships intact? Or will her stubbornness overrule her heart?

With a unique setting, quirky townspeople and even a ghost pirate, this book brings a cozy feeling, quite the sense of the paranormal, some romance, and layers of mystery that many authors couldn't pull off. Yet Joyce and Jim Lavene do such a splendid job that the threads all come together to sew a tightly woven story. The pace is quick, the crimes multifaceted and the storytelling is intelligent.

This is a fun, intriguing book and fans of the amateur-sleuth/paranormal/cozy genres should all enjoy it. It's good as a stand-alone, but even better if you also read A Timely Vision and A Touch of Gold as well.

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2012
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