Top positive review
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Even better then book one...
on 30 July 2012
Violet is suffering from nightmares from the events in the last book [Nearly Departed in Deadwood], which shows a bit more realism than just bouncing back and being ready her next misadventure, with no lessons being learnt along the way. The events and characters of the previous book do come up in lots of Violet's thoughts, so it helps to tie the books together and prevents the author from having to force in character conversations, where they fill in readers memory gaps.
Violet's best-friend-since-childhood Natalie was the only character who I thought didn't really get to do anything in the previous book, so it is nice to have her more included this time as Violet's partner-in-sleuthing. Plus by including her more we also get more Doc, who was still a mystery by the end of the previous book. That's not to say that we now learn everything about either of them and have future plot points laid out, but now the lack of knowledge is intriguing, instead of me not really being interested in them and not seeing them as people with feelings.
As this is only the second book in the series, I don't yet have any real complaints about how the author is using her secondary characters yet, but I will be watching how Violet's co-workers evolve in future books, especially Ray. Whilst Ray does have a bad attitude towards Violet, I have to be fair and point out that he is right in some of his grievances towards her; Violet does manage to have personal friendships with all of her clients, for one reason or another. He just has the reasons all wrong. He is also sort-of-right about who she is sleeping with - even though she continues to deny that she is doing so. I would definitely like to see him be allowed to grow in future books, so we can see what kind of person he is outside of his feud with Violet, as I suspect that he is actually a on-the-ball guy and has hidden depths.
As I mentioned above, OPTICAL DILULLISIONS manages to be a singular mystery and still connect to the first book in the series. Although reality is stretched already at this point in the series, it just wouldn't be at all realistic how she innocently stumbles into these separate situations randomly. I can't really explain what I mean without listing parts of the books and spoiling things, so I'm afraid that you are all just going to have to take my ramblings on the set-up.
The ghost angle was something that took me by surprise in the previous book and I didn't really know what to think about it at first, but I've decided that I love it - so far at least. The fact that it isn't Violet who can sense ghosts [remember that she doesn't believe in them] leaves the question of is it real hanging. Doc could be mistaken in his 'abilities', he may be mentally ill, or maybe he's even faking it for a as yet unknown reason. It'll be very interesting to follow whichever direction the author takes this particular plot in future books.
One of the book's biggest strengths is that it manages to weave in several threads, which will be parts of a few different ongoing story arcs. The basic plot opens and concludes in this one book, but these cleverly inserted threads offer intriguing glimpses into the mysteries surrounding Deadwood, which will control the directions of future books and leave readers thinking about the books after they've finished reading them, as we try to piece things together.