Friday, August 19, 2016

Review of "Wicked Ways" by Lisa Jackson & Nancy Bush




Elizabeth Gaines - wife, mother, and real estate agent living in California - seems to have a unique problem. People who infuriate her die soon afterwards, including her overbearing boss, a nasty cop, her cheating husband, a rude driver, and so on. Elizabeth feels anxious and guilty about this, and in the case of her husband, comes under suspicion by the police.

Elizabeth, an adoptee, does seem to have some unusual abilities. As a child she predicted a bridge collapse - but this is a far cry from 'wishing' people to death. Elizabeth's little daughter Chloe also seems to have some psychic ability, but she's a stubborn, headstrong child determined to get her way - not a sweet little girl.

Elizabeth's social group consists mostly of the women in a 'mother's group', a friendship/support group for young moms. Some of the ladies are quite inappropriate though, attempting to set Elizabeth up with a new man less than a week after her husband's death. (Would anyone really do this?) Moreover, the women and their husbands, who are recurring characters in the story, are hard to disinguish from one another.

Elizabeth's blood relatives - who are unknown to her - live in an old-fashioned, insular community in Oregon and also seem to have unusual powers. Getting the sense that Elizabeth is in danger Aunt Catherine dispatches 19-year-old cousin Ravinia to find and warn her. Ravinia takes off with a few wrinkled clothes and very little money and makes her way to California along with a supernatural wolf who seems to shadow her. In California Ravinia inveigles a private detective, Rex Kingston, to help her. Though Kingston tries to keep his distance, Ravinia keeps inserting herself into his life and his investigations, insisting she wants to be a partner in the detective business. To me this was not only pushy and annoying but unrealistic and I didn't like Ravinia.

The book follows two story lines. The first is Elizabeth and her everyday troubles: people are dying around her; the police suspect her of killing hubby; she's almost broke; unwanted men are asking her out; fellow realtors resent her recent success; her daughter is having spells, etc. The second is Ravinia's search for for Elizabeth. Neither thread is very compelling. Moreover the end of the book, which supposedly explains what's going on, is so convoluted as to be almost incomprehensible - and the reason for the danger to Elizabeth is never made completely clear.

I didn't think this was a terrible book but there seem to be some missing elements. Still, I probably won't be reading the next book in the series to find out.

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