The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
It was a dark and stormy night. (I couldn’t resist that remark!) Well-heeled guests, dressed in their best post-war finery, gathered round a small table to hear reports of ghostly secrets whispered into the shell-like ear of the flapper-tastic medium, Gloria Sutter. But like on all dark nights, nothing is as it seems, and before the evening is over there will be a murder among those assembled.
“The Other Side of Midnight” is the first book I’ve read written by the award winning St. James. Her characters are uniquely refreshing, and far from the usual stereotypes I’ve found in similar “lost generation” novels. England between the wars was alternately hedonistic and disheartening. Young men returning from World War I tried to come to grips with the horrors they had seen while simultaneously maintaining the polite fiction that all was well. Young women dared to step out of traditional roles, earning their own money and living alone.
Ellie Winter, or “The Fantastique,” works as a finder of lost things. Ellie is a true psychic, like Gloria, who was once both her best friend and rival. Now, Ellie has been called upon to return to a world filled with hucksters, false-psychics, card-readers and charlatans as she tries to solve a shocking society murder. Unfortunately, she is shadowed by both the living and the dead. Both will test her strength of will and sanity before her questions are answered.
I am not usually a fan of novels written in the first person. Generally, the voice throws me out of the story. “The Other Side of Midnight” was a smooth, well-paced read, sure to please fans of historical mysteries.
Bonus video: While she was not mentioned in the novel, Helen Duncan was a famous spiritualist who performed séances from shortly after WWI until her death in 1956. She was one of the last people convicted under the Witchcraft Act 1735, which made falsely claiming to procure spirits a crime in England.