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Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance Kindle Edition
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Derry’s supporting cast includes her mother Vanessa—successful American art gallery owner, artist’s agent, and force of nature. Vanessa is divorced from (but still agent to) Derry’s father, Jacko—famous Irish artist whose painting skills are second only to his ability to gamble (and lose) money. Then there are Derry’s acting friends, Bella (black, Belfast-born actress with catch-phrase ‘Say No to Negativity!’), and Bruce (gay ex-Navy Seal, actor, computer expert, and total eye-candy). [note: and in case you didn’t get the gay part, his remarkably prescient parents did, in fact, name him “Bruce”.]
As with favored TV shows, the point is not the actual mystery that needs to be solved each week/book, but the way Derry’s character and those of her friends develop and change over the course of each episode. Each episode begins with Derry trying to avoid a day job that involves the phrase, “And would you like fries with that?” or even worse, working as her mother’s Personal Assistant. (“Life as Vanessa’s P-anything would be like being trapped inside a hall of mirrors with a shopping list written in hieroglyphics.”) Derry’s only marketable skill—some psychic abilities which for the most part are both unreliable and fairly useless—lead to the birth of Madam* Tulip, celebrity psychic and fortune-teller. (*That’s Madam without an “e”, because she’s not married to Monsieur Tulip.)
But Madam Tulip, in her two previous outings, has shown an unfortunate tendency to stumble over crimes and dead bodies, while pitching Derry into life-threatening situations. So when a figure from one of those narrow escapes offers a no-audition role in a movie (at almost Hollywood rates!) being filmed in the Highlands of Scotland, Derry stuns her acting friends by turning it down. Bruce is particularly overcome.
[QUOTE] ‘No…?’ he said, but couldn’t utter the actual word. Bruce’s pathological fear of auditions was well known to his friends. Remarkably, a man who thought exiting a submerged submarine while carrying a full load of limpet mines a hoot, was terrified to the point of nervous collapse by the prospect of an audition. Now his face shone like that of a saint glimpsing the promised land. The very idea that auditionless casting existed somewhere in the universe promised to change life’s whole complexion. [END QUOTE]
When the movie company not only offers to change Madam Tulip’s name, but also to cast Bruce, Derry reluctantly agrees. In barely related subplots, her parents also head to Scotland to open a gallery (Vanessa) and recoup his finances with an exhibition (Jacko). This allows for plenty of snide Irish/Scot comparisons (‘Scotland seemed to consist of countless miles of nothing at all…’), and even more snide American/British comparisons (‘But, being half Irish, Derry knew that when someone laments the fact they would soon be buried under the sod, the statement was to be filed under the general heading of weella, weella, wallya or, alternatively, ochone, ochone, ochone. Such lamentations were mostly about the tune, not the words.’). Of course, there’s plenty of obligatory kilt-ogling, and Derry’s developing attraction to both the local millionaire castle owner, and to the delicious Scottish accents of his estate manager, Rab, especially with his ‘Aye’ of agreement.
[QUOTE] Derry breathed out as quietly as she could. A small but distinct and unambiguous tingle had developed at the nape of her neck. Could she try one more time?
‘Did you say an estate manager was called a factor here?’
‘Aye,’ answered Rab, gloriously. [END QUOTE]
Without adding spoilers, I think it’s fair to say the movie shoot doesn’t go well. Derry manages to get through the scene that gives the book its name, in which her character, a gypsy fortune teller, throws some prop bones and reads portents into their runes. Only…in her hands, the bones take on a sinister life of their own, bringing a vision warning of impending doom. A shaken Derry finds herself under attack from the media, maneuvered into giving a seance at the castle as Madam Tulip, shot at, and in peril.
As with many cozy mysteries, the character development, banter, and growing relationships with supporting characters are far more fun than the actual plot. That’s actually a good thing because the bad guys’ identities are telegraphed early on, but it doesn’t matter. Derry and Bruce stumble from one clue to the next, Madam Tulip’s psychic gifts illuminate the motives, and Derry is once more in the villains’ crosshairs. Meanwhile, Derry continues to choose the wrong guy for romance, her parents continue to battle, and Bruce continues to save everyone (while obsessing over his next scene).
I loved the descriptions of the settings, from Ireland to Scotland, and especially the Highlands (“An island-studded sea sparkled, blue and other-worldly. The water was stunningly transparent, so clear you could see a dark band of weed stretch out under the swell for a hundred yards before the sea bottom dropped away and the colour changed to a deep azure. A heather-covered hillside, golden red, rose steeply inland.”) Later, Derry rides the train used for the Hogwarts Express, “…sweeping around a curving viaduct thrown casually across a broad heather-covered valley of breathtaking beauty.” She’s right. I’ve ridden that train and the scenery is stunning (although I’ve never seen red heather…).
But my favorite part was the relationship between Derry, her parents, and her friends. As with any good series, this just keeps getting better and better. Without it, this would be a much lesser book, but I don’t hesitate to give five stars and say that I can’t wait for the next book. Maybe poor Derry will have a nice date at last.
**I received this book from the publisher or author to expedite an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Derry O Donnell is back, in this the third novel in the series from David Ahern. Derry is a jobbing actress, who works part-time as a fortune teller, under the guise of Madam Tulip. As in the previous novels, Derry seems to always find herself caught up in real-life mysteries and drama. In The Bones of Chance, it’s not long before Derry finds herself involved in another unexpected adventure.
Derry’s mother is a successful art dealer living in the US and her father is a contrary artist living in the West of Ireland. The marriage is over and Derry, as the only child, often finds herself as a referee between the two of them. The antics of her parents always provides a humorous edge to the Madam Tulip books, even though, more often than not, it’s in parallel to some murderous activity taking place!!
Derry accepts a job in Scotland. A movie is being made out on the Scottish Highlands and Derry is to play the role of a fortune teller. At the beginning Derry is slow to accept the job but with bills to pay and no other work on the horizon, Derry acquiesces to the role and is only too happy to hear that her friend Bruce is also joining the cast.
They travel to a remote location and all seems to be in order, a typical set of any movie where chaos looms, yet movies get made. The backers of the movie are two very wealthy business men, Jim Carson and Alex Dunbar, who have rather ostentatious lifestyles. Derry gets an unusual request to arrive at Jim Carson’s residence to do a reading for Sally Carson, his wife. Derry, without her fortune-telling paraphernalia, debates whether to accept this request, as she feels more comfortable when she is ‘in costume’ but this is the boss, this is for the man who pays her wages… Derry never appears fully at ease in the company of the Carson family. Derry’s instincts have always helped her in analysing a personality and in the case of Sally Carson, something is ‘off’ for Derry.
So begins another adventure for Madam Tulip. It’s not long before Derry discovers that all is not quite as it seems. There is something afoot in the Scottish Highlands and Derry soon finds herself uneasy in her surroundings while at times actually fearing for her life. With Bruce, her close friend and Ex-Navy SEAL by her side, Derry starts to unravel the truth, only to discover that the truth can be very, very dangerous indeed!!
Madam Tulip and The Bones of Chance is a mischievous and entertaining read, if you are looking for something a little lighter. With an insight into both Derry’s personal life, as chief negotiator between her parents, and her rather dangerous adventures as Madam Tulip, David Ahern knits the two stories together very well.
Madam Tulip and The Bones of Chance is a madcap tale of mystery. It’s entertaining. It’s charming. It’s delightful. It’s what I would term a cosy read!
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