Thursday, December 27, 2012

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: Twisted Paths meanders into boredom

I love paranormal mysteries.

If I had to pick one genre as my favorite – which isn’t easy because I have varied tastes – I would have to go with paranormal mysteries.

I was introduced to Terri Reid’s Mary O’Reilly mysteries earlier this year – and I was infatuated with them the minute I started reading them.

I breezed through the first eight (yes eight) in a matter of days. Then I was left to wait for the ninth book – ‘Twisted Paths’ -- to be released.

That happened a little over a week ago.

In typical fashion, I devoured the book in a couple of hours. Instead of feeling excited about what I just read, though, I was left feeling a little bit empty.

Don’t get me wrong, I am attached to the characters in Reid’s world. I genuinely care about Mary and (her love interest) Bradley. I also care about (most of) the people who populate their world.

For those that don’t know, Mary O’Reilly is a small town paranormal investigator. She used to be a police officer. When she was shot – years before, though – she died and came back a little different. Essentially, she can see and talk to ghosts now.

The ninth book in the series just isn’t as good as the rest of the book.

‘Twisted Paths’ features the standard “ghostly” mystery for Mary to solve (which I unfortunately figured out a couple chapters in) – and a lot of family bonding between Bradley and his newly discovered daughter.

I don’t want to get into a lot of spoilers – because the series is definitely worth reading – but suffice it to say that Mary and Bradley have been through their share of horror.

Mary still deals with the aftermath of her shooting – and an incident that happened much more recently. Bradley grapples with the past he used to have and the future he sees and wants.

I think the thing I noticed the most in this most recent book is that the characters are so vanilla that they’re unbelievable.

I don’t think every book has to have sex in it, but Mary and Bradley’s constant chatter about sex (which they will only have after they get married) is so trite and unbelievable it falls flat. Also, Reid needs to stop using the word “crushed” when describing their kissing. She uses it about six or seven times a book and it’s getting repetitive.

My biggest quibbles in this book come down to realism. I know that’s weird for a book that dwells with ghosts, but I want the characters and their motivations to feel real. They just don’t in this most recent book.

One character is still hanging around and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It makes no sense for him to still be here – especially since he’s from another country – and yet he remains.

A child in this recent book also loses her mother one day and three days later is asking to call another character “mom.” That rings so hollow and false that I have trouble investing in the child as a regular character – which she’s clearly going to be -- because she doesn't even feel remotely real.

The other thing I think Reid is doing is starting to milk her plot. I’m a firm believer that most series should end before they reach the 10-book mark. Reid is no different. This is her ninth book and she’s obviously trying to stretch the plot out to make the series last longer than it probably should last.

After the review I just wrote, most people probably think I’m down on the series. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I still love this series. I still love these characters. I just want them to feel real – and not like caricatures of perfect people that couldn’t possibly exist.

I recommend everyone try out Reid’s series. It’s well worth the time you’ll spend. I just want the series to rebound for the 10th book. I hope I don’t have unrealistic expectations.

'Twisted Paths' is available for $2.99.


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