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The Truth Sleuth by Jacqueline Seewald
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594149634
Date: 18 May 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Blog / Show Official Info /

For readers who like amateur sleuths and a lot a romance, Jacqueline Seewald's latest, The Truth Sleuth, will fill the bill. Kim Reynolds, a librarian turned high school English teacher with psychic abilities, experiences the final moment of a young man's life and then finds his body at a motorcycle rally. The victim, from a local high school, died sitting in a folding chair of a suspected drug overdose. Later, the police discover it is murder.

When the university terminates Kim's contract, she takes a job at the local high school as an English teacher. Students there come from a mix of working class and wealthy homes. Assigned several remedial classes, she finds the poetry class with the jocks difficult. The former teacher, also their coach, had promised to make it an easy class. Kim is more demanding and finds discipline problems take firm handling. In addition, the acting principal, a blond hunk, decides she isn't up to the task.

One student in particular proves especially difficult. Nick St. James has irritated other teachers and takes a dislike to Kim. He keys her car and slashes her tires. The acting principal arranges to have the car fixed and insists on talking with Nick. That leads to more trouble with the young man vowing vengeance on both Kim and the principal.

Most of her life Kim has struggled to suppress her psychic abilities and especially in this novel. She dreams of the victim and he implores her to find his killer, but offers no clues. Uneasy feelings and premonitions plague her, but provide little help.

Much of the novel follows Kim's romantic relationships. Initially, she is dating and plans to marry Mike Gardener, a police detective, until his wife returns and says she plans to stay. Mike had signed divorce papers, but the wife had never filed them. Kim breaks off the relationship and finds herself vulnerable to the acting principal's advances.

Then Nick's girlfriend accuses the principal of sexual abuse. Certain of his innocence, Kim helps clear his name by convincing the girl to tell the truth. When Nick turns up dead and Kim discovers the body, more rumors fly.

Seewald doesn't use excessive profanity or gross out gore unlike so many of the current crop of over-the-top mysteries. Her setting, a suburban New Jersey township, provides an interesting and very different view from TV's Jersey Shore. While astute readers will guess the killer before all the clues are revealed, Kim behaves much like the gothic heroines of old taking risks some may question. A few inconsistencies, especially those associated with the ending may bother some readers, but most will not worry.

Readers who like Kim Reynolds may also enjoy Seewald's other novels featuring her: The Inferno Collection and The Drowning Pool. Several other recent authors feature sleuths with psychic abilities, Judi McCoy's Begging for Trouble , Graham Kent's Devil-Devil, Juliet Blackwell's If Walls Could Talk..

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