I have mixed feelings about the latest book by award-winning author Lisa Tuttle; The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. Since it is the second book in the Jesperson and Lane series, following The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief, I understandably had a little trouble getting into the book. This lack of access was compounded by the fact that as the reader, I was immediately thrown into the action. I found it difficult to determine what I didn’t know, but would eventually discover as the mystery unfolded, and what I what I didn’t know because I hadn’t read the first book. This can be a problem when entering any series midway, but I had more trouble during the first and second chapters of this novel than I have had with other series.
Once I got past the first couple of chapters, I felt that the story moved along at a good clip, the mystery was distinctive and not easy to solve, and the secondary characters were well developed and interesting.
Character definition lead to the second problem I had with the novel, though. I felt like I knew the background characters much better than the primary characters, and the things I knew about the lead characters didn’t ring true. Jesperson, the lead male character, should have had no particular problems working with a woman, since his partner Lane is female. Yet he seemed to hold information back, even purposely keeping her in the dark, which at times hindered their murder investigation. Similarly, why would Lane, a woman who supposedly wanted to make her own way in the world, put up with Jesperson’s behavior? Overall, I found their behavior and working relationship unlikely.
In the end, I thought the book was okay.
Two out of five stars.
I received a complimentary copy a courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.
Description from Amazon.com
“Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.
According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft.
But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.
The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross
Publisher: Hydra (November 28, 2017)
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Sold by: Random House LLC