Grayling Cross by Gayleen FroeseI received an ARC of this book, published earlier this year, and just rediscovered it in my shelf. I was easily absorbed into the world of Anna and Coleen, who have managed to become private investigators within Edmonton’s secret supernatural community. Unaware that this was the second book in a mystery series, I jumped in and floundered a bit to get my bearings on the characters and setting.

Psychic Anna Gareau and public relations expert Collie Kostyna keep things quiet for local magicians and for their biggest client, an underground supernatural society known as the Embassy.

In Grayling Cross, an investigator arrives in town on the trail of a missing teenage psychic, and hires Anna and Collie to be his liaisons to the local magic community. Troublingly, though, he turns out to have a knack for suppressing magic, leaving magicians powerless and vulnerable. And when an Embassy employee is found murdered in a house nobody should have been able to enter, with a weapon that never should have killed him, suspicion naturally falls upon Anna and Collie’s new client.

From the publisher, NeWest Press.

After finishing the book, I learned that Touch by Gayleen Froese was the first in the series. Since I read an unfinished proof, I’m not sure if the final book indicated that it was the second in a series. That being said, Grayling Cross can easily stand alone plot-wise as whatever happened in Touch is touched (pun intended) upon briefly but not necessary to the current story.

Unfortunately the characters fell a little flat for me. We had a third-person narrator with an omniscient view into Anna’s thoughts and opinions. While it was an interesting mirror to Anna’s psychic powers, I found that she rarely did or acted in any way. She simply would look to Collie (Coleen) for guidance, or do nothing. It was incredibly frustrating to have such an inactive character. Also, most of the (what I assume were) pop culture references I didn’t recognize. I’m not sure if it was Edmonton- or Alberta-based or perhaps I am the wrong target generation.

The concept—a secret magic community in Edmonton maintained by a mafia-like society—was unique and interesting. The story is light, entertaining, and sprinkled with humour. I wasn’t blown away by the characters or the writing, but I was engaged and invested enough to finish the book (which was nice, since I’d just quit a book for being condescending and annoying). I will probably pass it along to my BookCrossing friends and would recommend it to fans of cosy mystery series.

(and this is just a pet peeve, but having the title of the book rhyme with the author’s name is frustrating and makes me tongue-tied)

I received this book as an unsolicited advanced reader copy from NeWest Press last year.