Review: ‘Reading The Dead: The Sarah Milton Chronicles’ by J.B. Cameron

 

Sarah Milton is a criminal profiler with the LAPD’s Violent Crime Unit; she’s helped solve several serial killings, and when she was a child she had an imaginary friend called Anna Nigma. Anna disappeared when Sarah’s mother was murdered.

During a trip to get some dog food Sarah is shot; a trip to the afterlife provides a clue to her mother’s murder, and then, when miraculously Sarah survives, Anna has returned. Sarah believes she’s going mad, until an old friend, in the course of investigating another serial killer ‘Raithe’, sends her to an old Chinese mystic, who collects ancient books. There’s a surprise in store for Sarah, and Anna.

Sarah, with Anna’s assistance, tracks down Raithe and his incorporeal accomplices. She goes to investigate, alone. Which is a big mistake.  Her colleagues arrive a little too late.

I quite enjoyed this novel; the characters are engaging and the plot kept my interest.  I especially enjoyed the development of the relationship between Sarah and Anna. Anna is a great character; she pulls pranks, is gobby and obnoxious, prone to temper tantrums, loves Sarah unconditionally and likes to play Scrabble.  There’s a lot of potential in this series of books, especially for the development of the damaged Sarah, and her relationship with Ryan (a colleague), and the solving of her mother’s murder.  Hopefully, Anna will eventually find out who she is as well.

I try not to judge harshly, but I do have a couple of criticisms.  I found some of the characters too convenient and predictable – Meghan the trust fund baby, who just so happens to be the owner of a rare and ancient book collection, just when Sarah needs such a friend. I hope she’s developed as more than just helpful scenery in the rest of the books. Sarah needs a friend. Sarah’s dad is also a bit of a caricature of the distant father/politician.  Unfortunately I found myself guessing the plot about half way through.  It was obvious that Anna’s a ghost and that Raithe is murdering people as revenge for the already dead.  I was only mildly surprised when I discovered that the same already dead were pulling his strings – it’s in his name, after all.

It’s possible I’ve read far too many supernatural and crime novels and I’m being picky; it doesn’t matter that this means I can predict a plot with a decent amount of accuracy because I can still enjoy a new story.  I look forward to reading the next in the Sarah Milton Chronicles ‘Fidelis In Æternum’.

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