A grief vampire. A hoaxer. A snake oil salesman. People claiming to be mediums have a number of epithets, especially ones who target the mourning. The seance is often called an attempt to bring closure or to offer some peace to those left behind. To others, it is nothing more than preying on the most vulnerable.
Kit is a bit of both.
She husband was killed during the attacks on the World Trade Center. She has raised their daughter Zoey on her own, cobbling together stage acting gigs, but her daughter’s hospital bills are past due and Kit is desperate. She using her acting chops to perform a different sort of show. With a bit of help from the obituary and memoriam section of the newspaper, and a copy of Portraits of Grief, she finds those in search of a lost connection. She calls or writes them, says she has a message from their loved one, and waits for them to reply.
Crucially, she doesn’t charge for her seances. She refuses all money for the first visit and will only accept a donation if they come back someday. The loophole makes her impervious to arrest, something that infuriates the police officers who have been busting mediums across the city. In an attempt to catch her, they plant a fake ‘mourner’ before posing as one themselves.
But she was unlike most of the others. She didn’t work out of a storefront, with a garish neon sign in the window, or pull people off the street and convince them she had all the answers. She didn’t channel five-thousand-year-old Incan princesses or long-dead Cherokee warriors. She approached potential clients as someone with a comforting message, offering them a chance of reconciling themselves to their loss. ~Pg. 118
Kit then begins to notice some of her readings are frighteningly accurate. She is not longer in control of her side business. It begins to mingle with other ongoing police cases and even helps to unravel what might have happened the day her daughter was injured.
Kit is a complicated but likable character, and her story is enthralling. Some of the other characters feel a bit more thin. The cop banter can be stilted at times. The book really shines when Kit, and our primary narrative, is front and center.
It takes a few chapters for the book to find its stride, but when it does, it is a wild ride. I quite literally stayed up well past my bedtime to finish this book.
My thanks to Shauneice at Sourcebooks for the review copy.
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (September 7, 2021)
Paperback: 320 pages