Series: Ophelia Wild Paranormal Mysteries #1
Genres: Paranormal Mystery
Published by Kensington on 2 July 2013
I confess I bought this book solely because the cover looked cool. Quoth the raven “nevermore”? I jolly well hoped it would. This novel is a paranormal mystery set in the Wild West with Gothic undertones. Ophelia Wylde, spiritual medium, is misidentified and then arrested by local attorney Sutton. He thinks she is Kate Bender, a serial murderer and spiritualist con artist. Quick-witted Ophelia may be guilty of scamming people with her spiritualism claptrap but she’s no murderer. She is exposed as a fraud after ‘talking’ to the ghost of a girl who isn’t actually dead but then the dead really start talking to her. Bounty hunter Jack Calder intervenes and together they start to investigate a local crime.
Ophelia is very modern for women in her era which makes her a target for conservative folk. She married young and lost her husband to the Civil War. Rather than remarry, she takes the unconventional route and becomes a spiritualist. Sure she might have had to help the spirits along a bit but she was giving people closure for the right price. Jack firmly believes in justice and making the guilty pay. Despite knowing Ophelia’s act was initially a sham, he decides to help her because leaving her to her own devices would be a greater injustice. There are lots of other colourful characters in this town and I loved the attention to detail that was lavished on them and the town itself.
The book is divided into two clear sections with the first focusing on fleshing out Ophelia and the latter investigating the mystery. This novel feels like a prequel almost for the series as the investigation doesn’t take that long and is relegated to the last third of the novel. Normally this would have me up in arms but the extended introduction to Dodge City and Ophelia’s predicament added to the richness of the tale and I felt like I knew exactly what made Ophelia and Jack tick. I do wish however we were given more information about the baddies whose backstories were unexpected and really interesting. I felt as if McCoy dangled a rather expensive chocolate truffle in front of me and then snatched it away after I had only had a bite. This is not a light cozy novel as things get gory in parts. Much like the real Wild West, life is cheap and people can be brutal.
I thoroughly enjoyed the jaunt back to the reconstruction era and getting to know Ophelia. I suspect the mystery aspect will be bulked up a little now the foundation has been laid. I can’t wait to see what Ophelia gets up to next.