Author: Joan Lowery Nixon
First Published: 1980
Page Count: 210
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 3/5 Stars
It starts out with a paranormal murder mystery but it can’t quite close the story with the same flourish that started it.
*Suspenseful murder mystery
*Abrupt conclusion *Childish dialogue *Poor plot twists
“There are things that happen to people who fool around with spirits and demons...” Lauren is persuaded to participate in a séance with her friends, led by a mysterious new girl named Roberta. However, when one of the girls mysteriously vanishes during the séance, Lauren and her friends are left to wonder whether her disappearance is related to the paranormal or someone they know in town. Time is of the essence as Lauren tries to figure out what happened during the séance and why more of the girls are disappearing.
I’ll be the first to admit that the story and its characters are very simple. Nevertheless, I was taken by the story. Even though the paranormal element fades after the séance is held, the murder mystery is enough to keep you reading. There are so many people with motives and yet the author doesn’t give the reader enough to really figure out who committed the murders. The book is fast paced and keeps you turning the page so for most of the book I didn’t have much to complain about in that sense.
There were some glaring issues in this book though. For one, the conclusion is abrupt and the loose ends are tied up way too cleanly. The author seems to lose steam once we get to the climax of the story that had been successful in building suspense. It was pretty disappointing and surprising that this is what the author served up for a conclusion. At times, the dialogue also came across as very simple and the plot twists were a bit convenient. The main character would “magically” remember things about the night of the murder that helped to move the plot and it just felt like an easy out for the author as far as moving the plot along.
I decided to still recommend this book because it’s so short and ninety percent of it works as a mystery novel. There are big issues with the book, but I think this would be a great summer read, one that you can just sit back and relax to without taking it too seriously. You will need to ask yourself, however, how much a quality ending matters to you. That is the one thing that really holds this story back.