Nine Lives: A Lily Dale Mystery
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Review by Gayle Surrette
Crooked Lane Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781629532486
Date: 27 October 2015 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Bella Jordan is feeling stomped on by life. Her husband died after a very long illness. Her son, Max, has become withdrawn. Her teaching position was eliminated due to budget cuts. The house they'd been renting has been sold and she has to move out. Her only option is to move in with her mother-in-law, who lives in Chicago, has never liked her, and doesn't particularly care for children. So, putting the best face on things for Max, they've discarded all their belongings except what would fit in their old beat up car and are heading to Chicago.
Shortly before the day of the move, Bella and Max found a very pregnant cat in need of help. Max was upset that they couldn't keep the cat. But, they left the cat behind and headed off for Chicago. The weather was stormy and, in New York, the car developed some problems. On a back road, they saw a cat in the road. It looked like that cat that they'd fed before leaving on their trip -- Max swore it was the same one. Then they saw a sign advertising a camp ground and decided to call it a night.
The car then broke down, the mechanic at the garage said there was a B&B in Lily Dale, and next thing Bella knows she's in Lily Dale, New York at what looks like a nice B&B that she can't afford. That's when she finds out the B&B is booked, the woman who runs it recently died, and the neighbor who is to look after the B&B offers to put up Bella and Max if Bella will run things for her. Bella accepts, but only until her car gets fixed.
It doesn't take long to discover that Lily Dale is a community for psychics and mediums, and the season is just starting. That Bella is a science teacher and doesn't believe adds a bit of spice to the mix. Then there's the fact that the owner/operator of the B&B may have died under mysterious circumstances.
The author plays fair with the readers and most of the clues are out in the open. The interplay between Bella and the neighbor, Odelia, who is a medium, regarding psychic phenomena is well done, respecting both points of view. The emotional tone of Bella who is grieving for her husband is well done and very believable.
The mystery had a lot of red herrings and misinterpretations of visions and/or feelings, as well as some solid police work and amateur detecting. It was entertaining, fun, witty, and worth the time.
I look forward to other Lily Dale mysteries.