Series: Lily Dale #6
Source: publicist in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 26, 2015
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Blurb from goodreads:
In this warm and witty series debut from New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub, a widowed young mom plans a fresh start in Chicago--but instead finds her way to a quirky lakeside village that just happens to be populated by mediums.
When reluctant road trippers Bella Jordan and her son Max detour to Lily Dale, New York, they're planning to deliver a lost cat to its home and then move on, searching for one of their own. But the footloose feline's owner Leona Gatto has unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a pregnant pet without a mistress, a busy inn without a keeper--and a lovable circle of neighbors who chat with dead people.
After agreeing to help out temporarily, sensible Bella doesn't need psychic gifts to figure out that a houseful of tourists and a litter of kittens lie in her immediate future--or that Leona was murdered. It's up to her to solve the case so that she and Max can leave town, but their new home--like Leona's killer--might just lurk where she least expects it.
I've seen Staub's books around for years but somehow hadn't read one so when the opportunity to review this came up, I said yes. The premise of the town Lily Dale is intriguing yet I was also doubtful. I hoped that Staub could sell me on it.
She did, somewhat. She leaves matters vague enough that there could be logical explanations for events or there could be supernatural explanations. I never quite completely bought the psychic aspects though I appreciate her leaving it up to the reader to decide what was real and what was not. I did feel that Bella was obstinate and willfully blind, not only to 'psychic' events but facts that were practically hitting her in the face. Other than that though she was quite likable. A recent widow with a young son, she's also been laid off and is on the road to move in with her mother-in-law when events land her in Lily Dale temporarily. She tries hard to be a good mother, and she is; and she's compassionate, loyal, helpful, and sweet. She worries about her and her son's future but isn't so focused on it that she can't care for a pregnant cat and her kittens. I actually learned a little about kittens and caring for them so that was cool.
Bella finds herself in the middle of several mysteries and it isn't long before she's asking questions and looking for information even as she resists the possibility of staying in Lily Dale. She's an amateur sleuth, and it shows, believably so, but she has expert assistance from Luther, a private investigator. Staub did a deft job with the characters, making them interesting and mostly believable. Mostly, because the paranormal aspects felt off at times, not quite real, and it made a couple characters overly quirky.
As for the mysteries, I figured out one minor one but the others kept me guessing. There were red herrings and obfuscations enough that answers weren't obvious. There were a few coincidences that stretched believability, especially in the denoument with the villain. There's also a slight Gothic feel to the story and hints of possible romances for Bella. I would like to see more of Bella, Max, Chance the Cat and her kittens, and Odelia. I had an eGalley and it was clean until near the end when suddenly it was riddled with typos and there were several continuity problems. Nine Lives didn't wow me but I liked it and will probably read the next one.