MEC reviews Necromantia and The Talebearer – Sheri Lewis Wohl

Necromantia by Sheri Lewis Wohl

A light paranormal read with a great premise and lots going on. Circe Latham has finally found a way to live with her gift by hiding in plain sight. Able to see the dead, she has become a K9 Search and Rescue worker who, with her GSD Zelda, specializes in finding bodies. It’s actually a really cool idea – and even though Circe tends to see the ghost first, she lets Zelda make the actual “find”.

In Necromantia, we start of with a search that ends up with Circe and Zelda finding three bodies in a small part of a public park. There appears to be a serial killer at work in the area and they just found one of his hiding spots – and throughout the book, Circe and Zelda stumble across a few more. Honestly, I’d never leave the house if there was a better than 60% chance that I’d find a dead body on my run – but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be leaving my house to go for a run in the first place.

The book has elements of paranormal, mystery, suspense, action and romance but doesn’t really dig deep into any one of them which makes it a pretty light read. The main plot revolves around the discovering the bodies of the victims of a serial killer, the really fast romance between Circe and Diana (detective), a secondary romance between the secondary characters. Throw in a stalker, some arson, and the killer’s POV and there’s lots going on. Despite the fact that one of the main characters and a strong secondary character are detectives – there isn’t much detail around the investigation and little detail around how the women have been killed, what lines of the investigation are being taken, etc. I think if one or two of the plot lines had been a bit more developed or detailed I would have been completely engaged. I wished Wohl had gone deeper into Circe’s history/experience or the investigation or even into the killer’s head to make a meatier read.

Wohl includes the POV of the killer as a way to increase the suspense and throw some red herrings. Normally, I hate when this device is used, but Wohl made it work and I think it was quite clever as it was intriguing to try to get a handle on what was driving him to killing and it added to the mystery with some good hints and red herrings.

Horrible cover though.

The Talebearer by Sheri Lewis Wohl

I tend to run hot and cold on Wohl’s books. This is one I enjoyed.

The Talebearer is a light paranormal mystery with a hint of romance. I was really happy to see that Wohl resisted the urge to play up the romance and focused on the mystery and paranormal aspects which I think made for a tighter story line. There’s a connection established between Liz and Willow, but it simmers in the background as there really are more pressing things to deal with during the story.

The book revolves around LIz as she receives visions of women who have been killed by a heretofore unknown serial killer. Already mentally and emotionally fragile from being the victim of a near fatal shooting, Liz’s self assurance and confidence strengthens as she and her friends begin to follow the clues from the visions. The chemistry between the characters – Elizabeth, Willow, Meg and Eldon – really worked. You could see the bonds of friendship and respect. I had a bit of a hard time with Eldon – he made some odd decisions (watching Liz’s house from a car parked down the street – probably not the best thing to get your paranoid friend to relax, and his decision to throw in with the search for the woman in the vision when his sister was missing) but he was a nice guy and it was sweet to see another budding romance building with his crush, Meg.

This is a serial killer mystery – with the horrifying idea that there’s a serial killer who has been so well prepared and methodical that she’s (yes, she) been operating for years with no one even noticing due to the random selection of victims. There’s really no blood or gore or police procedures. The leads don’t really hunt or catch the killer as much as find bodies and foil her plans to remain undiscovered. This of course results in them becoming targets of her ire.

As part of this book, Wohl adds chapters from the killer’s POV. Normally I despise this plot device but I think she actually made it work. Even after the killer self-names herself The Jaguar, I didn’t cringe. Yeah … she was a sociopathic serial killer, but I still think she was a pretty awesome character and the inclusion of her POV helped move things along and pushed the suspense up a few notches. There’s a few things that are a bit too convenient – Jaguar is delayed while disposing her latest victim and sees the police discovering one of her earlier carefully hidden victims. It is a bit of a stretch – but it gives Jaguar a nice little arc where her cool calm demeanor starts to unravel and she starts making rash decisions – which crank up the suspense as she fixates on Liz and her friends.

This was a good light read that had just enough mystery, just enough paranormal and just enough potential romance to make it a satisfying read.

Cheri also enjoyed The Talebearer

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