There’s a new amateur sleuth in town (although by the time of this review, Ahern is writing the third in his Madam Tulip series) and she is very likeable indeed. Derry O’Donnell, the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son, has a residual gift for seeing the future. As it turns out, that’s not always a good thing. But it does set you up quite nicely as something of a detective.
Derry, a somewhat unsuccessful actress – she hasn’t heard from her agent for some time, is drawn into a world of celebrity intrigue and dark-doings when she agrees to adopt the role of Madam Tulip, Fortune Teller, for a turn at an exclusive party. Events take a dark turn and Derry is forced to reluctantly follow her own intuitions in order to help save a friend. She is aided by a brilliantly-drawn supporting cast – Derry’s warring parents made me laugh out loud at times – and it struck me that such a light-touch comedic writing is hard to do well. Ahern manages it brilliantly and it is this warmth of characterisation that really made the book for me.
‘It took years for Derry to work out that her parents still slept together when they failed to remember not to.’
I also enjoyed Derry’s scenes with Bruce, the ex-Navy-Seal-turned-actor, who fulfils the role of trusty and useful sidekick with aplomb – Ahern’s created a strong dynamic between the two and there’s a rich vein of humour relating to their dreams of actorly-success here too.
The pace shifts up a notch in the second half of the novel, when the narrative clicks into pursuit mode, and it was at this point that I really began to appreciate Ahern’s intentions for his protagonist. The plot becomes as action-packed as you could wish for, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Derry and her alter-ego, Madam Tulip, will do next.
My thanks to the author for providing a free copy for an honest review.