I adored JAK's Light in Shadow - the first in the Whispering Springs Novels. The characters were crisp, witty and it was JAK at her best.
This is not.
Not that it is bad. It's just this is in the pattern of her recent trilogies of books. One really good and then two weaker continuation of the same story. I really hoped since Light and Shadow was so strong that she would break that curse. I love JAK - she is one of my favourite writers, but I do feel let down by these weaker part 2 and 3 of her JAK and Quick efforts of late. Only the Eclipse Bay books were as good all the way through. In paperback, maybe you would grump less, but at hardback prices her fans deserver a little bit more.
When we last saw the Whispering Hills gang, it was just a month early. Ethan Truax, PI, had married Zoe Luce to stop Zoe's brother-in-law from trying to pop her back in to the high-priced Candle Lake Manor Psychiatric Hospital. The bluff had worked and the mystery - who killed Zoe's husband - was solved. Zoe's fellow escapee from Crystal Lake - Arcadia was now living with Harry, Ethan's PI friend. Neither Zoe or Arcadia had mental problems, but Crystal Lake specialised in hiding rich people's "embarrassments" - for enough money they quietly keep the problemsome relative away from prying eyes. However, in Arcadia's case, she was actually hiding from a husband, and deliberately checked herself into Crystal Lake. Grant Loring tried to kill her. She figured her husband would never look for her at an institute for the mentally ill.
Arcadia suddenly fears, Grant's still alive - not dead from a skiing accident as reported - and that he has now decided to come after his wife who has too much information on him. She fears her "new" identity has been compromised.
But the whole gang, for one reason or another is uneasy. It's November, the month Ethan's brother was murdered, leaving Ethan, Bonnie, his sister-in-law, and his two nephews dealing with the grief. Ethan also is concerned about his marriage. He jumped at the chance to use the excuse of protecting Zoe, when he really wanted to marry her. Now, he fears she may be having second thoughts. Zoe is having seconds thoughts, but not because of love. She loves Ethan, but he refuses to believe Zoe is psychic, just chalks up her "gift" to good intuition. She feels if he cannot accept WHAT she is how can he love her? This is a sticking point, especially when she starts running into "spider webs" of dark emotions somehow connected to Crystal Lake. But those worries, take a back seat when someone tries to kill Ethan. Is it connected to his brother's death? Connected to Zoe's stay at Crystal Lake? Or the con man that Ethan exposed?
Frankly, this books is a pleasant read, with some really fine JAK's humour, but on the whole, she once again has too many story lines going all at once - to hide there is not much of a mystery (Smoke and Mirrors problem). The romance between Zoe and Ethan gets pushed aside as it become the "Gang's" Story. It's like JAK has lost the heart to write romance, so she covers it with food, food and more food (Quick's Don't Look Back's Problem).
This is enjoyable, diverting, and will please fans, but they would do well to wait for paperback. Then you won't feel so let down.
The same complaints I see from other readers concerning her last half dozen books - thin mysteries, too many story threads and not enough romance on the leads - seems to be a trap JAK is falling into over and over again.