Thank you Harlequin MIRA for NetGalley approval!
They say a painting can have a life of its own…
In the case of Ghosts in the Mind by Henry Sebastian Hubert, that's more than just an expression. This painting is reputed to come to life—and to bring death. The artist was a friend of Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, joining them in Switzerland during 1816, "the year without a summer." That was when they all explored themes of horror and depravity in their art….
Now, almost two hundred years later, the painting appears in New Orleans. Wherever it goes, death seems to follow.
Danielle Cafferty and Michael Quinn, occasional partners in solving crime, are quickly drawn into the case. They begin to make connections between that summer in Switzerland and this spring in Louisiana. Danni, the owner of an eccentric antiques shop, and Quinn, a private detective, have discovered that they have separate but complementary talents when it comes to investigating unusual situations.
Trying to blend their personal relationship with the professional lives they've stumbled into, they learn how much they need each other. Especially as they confront this work of art—and evil. The people in the portrait might be dead, but something seems to wake them and free them to commit bloody crimes. Cafferty and Quinn must discover what that is. And they have to destroy it—before it destroys them.
Starting this book, I haven't checked if it's part of the series. It seemed like a stand-alone, a spooky story I might enjoy. I wish I knew sooner, but the cover was so good I couldn't resist!
I started reading this quite excited; I saw the 'NYT bestselling author' and that usually seals the deal. The start was a bit confusing, though. The prologue didn't make much sense. It was a snippet of 19th century happening, but the writing didn't click into that. It was too modern, so it felt out of place. But as the rest of the book started to unveil, I eased into it and it got more interesting.
I must admit I am a bit of a sucker for detective stories, I really enjoy Robb's books and Scarpetta series I've read in the past, so this was kind of a homey territory, and it was easy to read partly because of that. The writing itself was easy, too. It was very normal in a way, and something you find in a TV show with similar thematics, so I was finding it easy to read, even though I did not enjoy it in itself. It was just so bland, so simple, so elementary.
The plot was quite intriguing. A few times I was wiggling my eyebrows, curious about what's going on. I got this feeling the author tried to create the confusion of the main characters for the reader as well; I felt part of the story myself and that was good. Though the story did feel a little rushed, a little too simple at times, a little showoffy, and typically Hollywoodish.
The characters were going along well with the story and narrative. It was like reading a mediocre TV cop show - badass lone wolf detective, his gorgeous and jack-of-all-trades beau that can tame the copper, fast narration, quick deductions, the hollywood-y style of finding out who was the culprit... It was kind of blergh, but I read on nevertheless because it was just interesting enough. Still, I wished the characters had more depth, had something. They were flawed, a bit, but it's was all still too shiny, too TV-like. I didn't connect to anyone at all. Okay, maybe to the sassy butler.
I'm usually not a fan of multiple narrators, or rather points of view. Here it didn't bother me too much. It showed a story from two different sides, and when it came together, it made nice sense of a whole. So we had a short introduction into two connecting sides. There was however a lot of dialogue, and sometimes I got lost in it. I don't like info-dumping, but here I found lack of that, at least in the common way of descriptions between dialogue. I'd much prefer a few more descriptions besides the story, rather than dialogue that was so unrealistic. I mean every single character was familiar with the painter and his history, and with geography and 19th century summer events, along with history of cremation. Please! It covered a lot, and tried to tell additional info the reader needed to understand the story, but it didn't turn out that well in my opinion.
In short, the story in general felt a little flat. There was a lot happening very fast at times. There was a very fast narrative. The characters didn't do too many remarkable things that would really blow one's mind. The things researched or described sometimes barely scratched the surface. I found it all rather hurried, and even though the story was engaging and I wanted to find out more, coming to the end of the book I was a little let down. The more I read the more frustrated I was. I cannot really put my finger to it, but it just wasn't that. It was typical, stereotypical. It wasn't something to blow you away, it was good to pass the free time but if I miss out on other books, I will be fine.
It was okay.