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Now You See Her    by Cecelia Tishy order for
Now You See Her
by Cecelia Tishy
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

In Now You See Her, Cecelia Tishy (author of the Kate Banning series) introduces Regina Cutter. Reggie Cutter is a forty-something trophy wife turned divorcée, with paranormal abilities that she inherited from her Aunt Jo. At the beginning of the book, Aunt Jo has passed away leaving Reggie her town house in Boston's Barlow Square - good timing for Reggie because she went through a lemon of a divorce when her ex-husband traded her in for a 'younger model.'

Though times are tight financially for Reggie, the town house is a coup for her, and she has also inherited partial custody of Aunt Jo's beagle Biscuit. He serves as a good companion to Reggie, although she shares him with a peculiar, shifty biker named Stark. Reggie and Stark become cautious friends, as Stark stops by the town house regularly to take Biscuit for a few days. Interplay between Reggie and Stark includes a debate on the safety of Biscuit riding on the back of Stark's motorcycle and Stark's desire to turn Biscuit into a hunting dog. Stark is a strange character and the odd co-ownership of Biscuit borders on implausible, but I suspect that the author is setting up the framework for more appearances by Stark in the series. There are also vague references to a potential love interest that Reggie has with an unnamed man in a foreign country, not developed in this first episode. I assume that this again is to set up the mystery man's appearance in future books.

Reggie is happily ensconced in the Boston town house, where she makes ends meet by working part-time for StyleSmart, a charity consignment shop for disadvantaged women who need business clothing to begin their careers. Reggie also writes a 'Ticked Off!' column for a newspaper. The remainder of Reggie's time is spent as a volunteer to help Detective Francis Devaney with an old murder case - which is the basis of the mystery plot. The case technically was solved many years before, when a black man named Faiser was convicted and imprisoned for the murder of a politician's son, shot in a drug-ridden area of Boston. Detective Devaney suspects that the wrong man is in jail, but doesn't know who the real murderer is. Reggie uses her psychic abilities to get to the bottom of the case. Detective Devaney brings evidence to their meetings and Reggie holds various objects in her hand to see if she can get a read on what happened so many years before.

Just when the case seems to have chilled forever, Reggie gets a 'hot tip'. Reggie's ribcage starts burning when she reads a letter from prison. Thereafter, she is hot on the trail of the real murderer. Reggie surpasses Detective Devaney's instructions about providing assistance from the sidelines, and most of her time is spent on old-fashioned legwork on the case. Reggie, hell-bent on finding out who the real murderer is, eschews the risk and dangerous circumstances surrounding her as she seeks justice for the wrongly imprisoned Faiser. Haunted houses, dirty politicians, Rastafarians, historic Boston figures, steamy and scandalous love affairs and more await Reggie as she uncovers the answers to the cold case, piece by piece.

Now You See Her becomes convoluted at times because there are so many elements to the story. While the author clearly spent a lot of time creating an intricate mystery, the various characters and their tenuous connections to the murder case made the reading burdensome because it was hard keeping everyone straight. Tishy also left hanging ulterior motivations on Detective Devaney's part (hinted at but unresolved), as well as Stark's presence in Reggie's life, along with that foreign romantic connection of Reggie's. Tightening up the mystery, adding more suspense (which should be relatively easy given Reggie's paranormal capabilities) and perhaps some humor would make the second installment in this series more enjoyable for mystery fans.

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