Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance.
Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband comes to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan's ghost, but not to become Suspect #1 for her husband's murder and reanimation.
But what's most surprising of all is the growing attraction between her and psi-crime detective John Thresher. He thinks that Lillie killed Nathan, and Nathan must agree, because his zombie is seeking revenge. Now she and Thresher must work together to solve her husband's murder, before his corpse kills her...
Dark & Disorderly is a suspenseful debut novel from Bernita Harris, and it's the first book in The Adventures of Lillie St. Claire series. The heroine Lillie has the ability to see and communicate with the dead, also know as Talent. Her world is filled with ghosts, many of whom are wreaking havoc on the living. Lillie is a professional exorcist, working for the city by removing the trouble making spirits. Lillie was the highlight of the story. She is the survivor of a broken childhood and an unhappy marriage, always being thought of as a freak because of her "talent," even by her late husband. In spite of all that, she is tough, smart and obviously very powerful.
As a psi-detective, the hero Johnny Thresher begins the story trying to find evidence to pin Nathan's murder on Lillie. I think Johnny was a weaker piece of the story. We never really get to know him. I didn't understand why he was so convinced she was guilty, considering Nathan's questionable background and involvement in controversial organizations. Johnny's feelings for her are fickle throughout the story. One moment he's convinced she's a murderer, and the next he wants to protect her and be her knight in shining armor. Hopefully in future stories we will discover what makes him tick.
"I was standing there naked when a dead man sauntered into my bathroom."
This was a unique tale that grabbed me from the first sentence. The plot was full of twists and turns, and we're never quite sure who the true villain is until the end. The story never slows down. The spooky paranormal elements in the story were intriguing, though there were several complicated supernatural terms used, many from Irish/Celitc myths, that I would have liked further explaination of. Carina Press categorized this book as a paranormal mystery/paranormal romance, but the romantic elements were lacking. But honestly, there wasn't room for romance in this story. Perhaps there will be further down the line. Fans of paranormal fiction and mystery/thrillers will surely enjoy Bernita Harris' debut novel.
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley.