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The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief: Jesperson and Lane Book I Paperback – 10 Aug 2017
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Tuttle does a lovely job of putting us back in the foggy streets of Victorian London in this lively, entertaining blend of murder mystery and supernatural adventure. Arthur Conan Doyle would have approved. (George R. R. Martin, Bestselling author of Game of Thrones)
Lisa Tuttle has been writing remarkable, chilling short stories and powerful, haunting novels for many years now, and doing it so easily and so well that one almost takes it, and her, for granted (Neil Gaiman on Lisa Tuttle)
A wonderful mystical journey through the darkened rooms of Victorian séances and stagecraft - beautifully written and researched. I absolutely loved it (Alison Littlewood, author of A Cold Season)
A fitting tale of intrigue that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read . . . thrilling and entertaining story. 9/10 (Starburst Magazine)
Both comical and exciting, this is a delight of a read, and when a new case emerges on the horizon of the final page, it makes you want to urge the author to write the duo's second set of adventures faster so we can feast on it as soon as possible (Maxim Jakubowski, Love Reading)
Lisa Tuttle has created a most engaging detective duo in Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane ... an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable mystery (Mark Douglas Home, author of The Sea Detective and The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea)
Tuttle's delivery is impeccable and "The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief" is an enjoyable romp that's a continuous pleasure to read . . . As an opening to the series "The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief" works remarkably well so it'll be interesting seeing where she takes the series next. (Upcoming4.me)
[Lisa Tuttle] has a prize-winning knack of doing what a lot of fantasy writers can only dream of: making the impossible seem everyday, and writing legend in such a way that it seems like a very present and nerve-tingling possibility (Scots Magazine on Lisa Tuttle)
An easy read, with the plot cracking along at a terrific pace . . . a fun dance through spiritualism and Victoriana with a lot of heart and soul (Book Geek)
An enjoyable first mystery in the Jesperson and Lane series. Well plotted and written (Murder, Mystery & More…)
Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .See all Product description
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It is set in Victorian times. Our female lead Miss Lane, is in Scotland. She is an assistant, friend and housemate of Miss Fox. They work with the SPR - Society for Psychic Research - to seek out frauds and if possible find the real thing. Suddenly, and it is sudden, she’s packing her bags and heading south as she suspects her friend of not playing fair. We’re now in London, she doesn’t know where to go as she cannot go back to Miss Fox’s home now. There’s an ad in a shop window. Assistant needed. The address is just up the road. She goes. She knocks on the door and before you can blink she has a new job and a roof over her head. She is now assistant to Mr Jesperson and living with him and his mother. Sorted.
Eventually the strange case of a somnambulist comes their way. Then there is the reappearance of Miss Fox, for good or for ill?? Missing psychics, pilfered jewels and an American who has amazing powers of levitation, telekinesis and making the dead appear. It certainly got quite exciting. I thought the ending was pretty good too.
Miss Lane is a young woman of independent character and though she is a little bit of a cold fish at times she is slowly beginning to thaw. Mr Jesperson is a big excited puppy but he has travelled the world seen much, learnt much and is, like Miss Lane, not easily fooled. His mum can handle herself too.
I think I’ll try the next novel, which is sort of started at the end of this one.
There’s a large part of the book which refers to psychic and medium fraud but then towards the end it all veers into full on psychic battles without any acknowledgment of how fantastic this all is. This is where the book feels confused.
It’s entertaining enough but not the best example of Victorian fiction.
Detective fiction is absolutely not my genre. I read my way through a whole pile of Poirot, Miss Marple, Ellary Queen and Sherlock Holmes books in my teenage years, and have never been tempted to repeat the experience. The whole genre seems to hang upon the puzzle of figuring out who dunnit, and sometimes, what was done. Obviously there are many millions of people out there who absolutely love that, but it's not for me. I kinda like to see a spaceship, or a big disaster, or at the very least some kind of supernatural happening.
So … thanks are due to Ms Tuttle for producing a detective story with a decidedly supernatural theme. I think that most readers will figure out very quickly 'who dunnit', but the questions of 'what they did' and how our heroes are going to stop it happening, are intriguing enough to make this book a real page turner. The book is set in the period of Sherlock Holmes, and there are several nods in the direction of Mr Conan Doyle. It's also set firmly in the world of spiritualists, and their attendant cynics and would be debunkers. Our very own heroine is of a decidedly sensible bent, but she has much to discover about herself.
The book introduces a set of characters who I hope will continue through the series. The detectives of the piece are Miss Lane and Mr Jesperson. Miss Lane is a heroine for the ages, a truly independent woman with principles, curiosity, and a vast store of cynical common sense. She has found herself unemployed, homeless and penniless, because of her strong principles; but within the space of a few chapters she acquires a new role, as the professional partner of Mr Jesperson, a young man of huge talent and even huger self belief. The pair are perfect foils for each other, and whilst their fondness for each other grows throughout the book, this is a perfectly platonic and respectable relationship. It has to be, as Lane and Jesperson are living under the same roof as the wonderful Mrs Jesperson. She is the hero's mother, and a woman almost magically capable of managing a respectable middle class existence on a very small income indeed. The fourth character, who I fervently hope will appear in future novels, is Miss Fox, the erstwhile employer of Miss Lane. I have to admit, I have a real soft spot for Miss Fox, who manages to be simultaneously fascinating and very annoying.
The book is beautifully written, I enjoyed the simple, flowing style which is the mark of a master at work. It's also very well researched, and served as a taster for an internet trip of my own into the history of mediums in Victorian Britain.
If you like a good tale, well told, or if you like a strong female protagonist, or if you like to get in on the ground floor of what is set to be one of the most entertaining detective series of the decade … read this book.