James M. Jackson proves you can tell a compelling crime story without death or violence. In this novella, Seamus McCree is on vacation with his eighty-something mother and his six-year-old granddaughter. He hopes to buy a beach condo that can be a vacation home for all generations of the family. In the process, Seamus uncovers a clever and costly criminal scheme, which is just one layer of a complex plot. Megan, his granddaughter, also has concerns about crime, when a suspicious character rifles through her great-grandmother’s bag on the beach. Both the child and the elder are portrayed with full humanity, no clichés or cuteness. It was great to spend time with Seamus again, a likeable sleuth whose weapons are intelligence, creativity, and knowledge. His narrative voice is natural and readable, a guy you’d enjoy getting to know. Series fans or newcomers can enjoy this story.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that takes so many heart-stopping sudden twists in so few pages. The novella begins dramatically and only cools down enough at times to let the reader and the protagonist recover for the next brush with death. Kate Jones is a character I want to follow through the rest of her adventures. In this book, she attempts to escape from a life-changing mistake, a romantic involvement with a man who turned out to be a drug lord. It’s a classic tough-choice plot, with no good options. Kate takes the bravest route, with best potential long-term outcome but also the greatest risks, and she does it her own way. With a Mexican setting the author clearly knows well, Bad Spirits will take you on hair-raising ride with a kick-ass heroine. I look forward to the rest of series.
This first in the Kate Jones thriller series is currently available free.