by Ericka Scott, contemporary (2007)
Cobblestone Press, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-60088-135-0
In Ericka Scott's Crystal Clear, our heroine Sara Dawson is psychic. She actually uses this big crystal ball, which clearly puts her a class above those wimpy psychic heroines who merely close their eyes in order to see spooky stuff. Sara opens a bookstore and also avails herself as a life coach for hire. Her newest client is Tony Markham, a soap star. But is she over the moon? Not really - she has recently seen her own gruesome death in her crystal ball and now she's really scared that someone is out to kill her.
To her dismay, Tony wants to hire her to tell him his future rather than to be his life coach. Sara wants to keep her psychic gift to herself as much as possible, you see. Meanwhile, our hero Detective Parker Ling is trying to get hold of her for two reasons. One, he's on a case where a killer is targeting women who look similar and Sara is next on this killer's list. Two, he thinks that she's hot.
I have some issues with the plot. The serial killer is apparently targeting women who look like "gypsies", but Ms Scott never actually delves into what the killer is looking for in his victims. What does "looking like a gypsy" mean? Are we talking about skin tone, clothing, eye color, hair style, or something else? What makes these victims "amazingly similar", since we aren't exactly talking about identical twins here? And speaking of skin tone, how on earth can Parker, a first-generation "Asian" ("Chinese", I'd guess, judging from his name), be called "Mr Tall, Dark, and Dangerous"? Too much time spent under the sun? Perhaps his mother is African-American or Indian?
There is another more plausible connection between the murder victims: they were all involved in one capacity or another with a TV production company. Why the author doesn't just stick to this connection instead of muddling things up with that "gypsy" thing, I will probably never know. At any rate, Parker discovers that Sara has been seeing that soap opera actor - whose TV show is produced by that same production company - in a professional capacity recently and hence suspects that she's probably in danger.
This is a romantic suspense short story but the problem with the "romantic" part is that Sara and Dawson still have not interacted in any significant manner by the halfway point of this story. The author tries to impress me with the fact that somehow these two have some kind of metaphysical bond due to the fact that they have dreams of having hot sex with each other but I don't know, I just don't buy it. I know, I'm such a cynic when it comes to all this sex dream stuff. As for the "suspense" part, there is only one possible suspect in this story so there's that.
Crystal Clear is a readable tale although it is not without its problems when it comes to the premise of the story. However, given that it doesn't have much suspense or romance for a romantic suspense tale, this is one of those books where I am hard-pressed to come up with any reason to recommend it other than if the reader really has nothing better to do.
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