Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Uneasy Spirits by M. Louisa Locke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I waffled between three and four stars for this review, but finally settled on three.  Basically because the ending didn’t satisfy.

This is the second in this series (the first was Maids of Misfortune) and is a slightly better read.  Set in late 19th century San Francisco, the book focuses on Annie Fuller and her suitor, attorney Nate Dawson.  Annie is a widow who runs a boarding house and has created a second family with those who room there.  Miss Pinehurst, one of her boarders, asks her to investigate a medium she believes is doing harm to her sister, because with Annie’s experience as Madame Sybil, she believes Annie will be able to ferret out the truth.  Thus begins Annie’s attendance at seances led by Arabella Frampton and her husband Simon, with Evie May, a young girl who is able to channel various spirits.

This is the mystery - are the Framptons fake or are they real.  Is Evie May real or is she somehow being controlled by the Framptons?  This isn’t the typical murder mystery, though there is a mysterious death that crops up from the past.  This is Annie using her experiences to determine if the seances are legitimate or not.

She gets help from her maid, Kathleen, as well as Nate.  There is also more of the romance between Nate and Annie, though it is still wobbly.  With this book we get to know more about Kathleen, as she accompanies Annie to most of the seances (but doesn’t participate).  We are also introduced to Biddy, a friend of Kathleen’s, who is working for the Frampton’s.  An enjoyable character.

My major complaint with this book as with is predecessor is that it seems to go on just a tad too long.  It wasn’t quite as drawn out as Maids of Misfortune, but I felt like it could have been wrapped up a bit sooner.  The romance is a side story and for the most part is done well, if not a bit heavy handed at times.  The other thing that bothered me was the resolution.  Not necessarily the answer to the initial “are they fakes” question, but to the resolution with Evie May.  I felt like she was actually a split personality and while I understand that these things in that time had no explanation (and Evie May has a good ending), it was just left hanging.  I would have been happy with an end note by the author at the end of the book.  Maybe in future books it will be addressed.

Having said all of that, I enjoyed this book.  The mystery was well done and I did not figure out the ending.  It has a few flaws, but not enough to detract from the story.  I plan on reading future mysteries and recommend this title to those that enjoy historical mysteries.