Madam Tulip – David Ahern

*I received a free ARC of this book.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

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Blurb:  Out-of-work actress Derry O’Donnell is young, talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madam Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous.But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a castle – a famous rap artist will die.

As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life.Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry’s attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.

 

I loved Madam Tulip.  It was the kind of bright and breezy read that brings a breath of fresh air to my reading pile, and the genuine warmth and humour the author brought to the characters had me smiling (and occasionally grinning) as I read.

The standout for me here was the author’s style, which deftly brought the characters and setting to life and carried the (somewhat far-fetched) plot with a cheeky wink.  Derry / Tulip is an engaging and endearing protagonist, and her friends and family are all distinct and loudly entertaining, with special mention of Jacko and Vanessa as my personal favourites.

The plot is mostly cosy mystery, with a psychic twist.  Derry is an unemployed bit-actress who is persuaded to turn her knack for reading friend’s fortunes into a starring role as a celebrity fortune-teller.  Except that her gift is real, and so is the danger.

There is a distinct change in tone partway through the book.  The first half is mainly building up the characters and setting the scene for Derry’s talents and the situation she is facing, at a slow gentle pace.  The second half explodes into action with kidnappings, weapons and drug dealers and is a fast-paced thrill ride to the end.

Highly recommend this to fans of cosy mysteries in general, and of writing styles similar to Elizabeth Peter’s Peabody series.  Book 2 of Madam Tulip’s adventures has shot straight to the top of my personal wish list and I can’t wait to find out what Derry and her eccentric cohort get up to next!

Derry peered into the crystal ball.  Inside she could see the lamp and her face reflected, distorted but bright.  She moved her head from side to side, watching the shifting image of the room as if from inside a goldfish bowl.  Only curiosity made her look; a fascination with the visual effect created by the crystal had never left her.  But there, strangely off-centre, completely unexpected, something stirred.

– David Ahern, Madam Tulip

Find more from David Ahern here, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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