A Spirited Gift
Joyce and Jim Lavene

ISBN-13: 978-0425245026
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Berkley
Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Pages: 304
Retail Price: 7.99

Genre: Mystery

The mayor of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O'Donnell, is a woman with a gift for finding lost things. Sometimes it leads to lost keys or earrings—and sometimes it leads her to murder...


Dae is playing host to twenty North Carolina elected officials attending her first Mayors' Conference Weekend at the Blue Whale Inn. Before they can get down to business, the politicians must weather the severe overnight hurricane. The morning after, Dae finds a diamond-and-ruby ring belonging to Mayor Sandi Foxx—whose body is also discovered in what's left of the inn's toolshed.

After receiving a vision through the ring of somebody threatening her with a gun, Dae doesn't believe Sandi died in the storm. Was it a deadly resignation from her personal assistant and lover? Or perhaps one of the mayors wanted to kick Sandi off the campaign trail. Either way, Dae is determined to find the killer, and she won't be granting clemency...

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Dae O’Donnell, mayor of Duck, North Carolina, decides to hold a two-day mayor’s conference at the Blue Whale Inn. The conference is just getting started when a severe storm moves in, forcing everyone to hunker down at the inn, which is owned by her boyfriend Kevin Brickman. After the storm, Dae finds a ring belonging to Mayor Sandi Foxx. Dae has a gift that enables her to find lost things others are looking for as well as learning about missing objects by touching them. When Dae picks up Sandi’s ring, she has a disturbing vision. Soon, she finds Sandi’s body, but is Sandi a victim of the storm or of something much more sinister?

Poor Dae has her hands full. She is helping Kevin with an inn full of guests with no power and limited food and a possible murder. As mayor, she must also help the town deal with the aftermath of the near hurricane-force storm that has done considerable damage. In addition, Dae has an unwelcome companion of a ghostly presence that seems to be following her around ever since her friend Shayla held a séance to try to contact the spirit of Dae’s mother. All these things are almost too much for Dae and they are almost too much for the reader to keep track of as well. Eventually, a pirate ghost appears to Dae, and he ends up playing a large role in the story.  At first, this seems strange and an unwelcome element being crammed into an already full story. However, the way the pirate ultimately fits into the story won me over and this storyline became one of my favorite parts of this book.

I have mixed feelings about Dae. I like her take-charge personality. She is decisive and takes action when she has a problem. She feels responsible for Sandi’s death since the mayor’s conference was her idea and she is determined to find out the truth behind her death. What I find strange about Dae is she has a shop with antiques and unique items, but will only sell the item to someone if she thinks the person is right for the item. This sounds more like placing dogs for adoption instead of selling antiques. Dae is proud of the fact that if anyone asks the price of an item, she will charge a steep price reasoning that if someone is really right for an item, the person wouldn’t ask the price. Maybe this is supposed to show Dae’s sensitivity, but it comes across as arrogance to me. There are plenty of things I would appreciate owning, but I definitely have to ask the price before buying them!

This is the third book in this series, but there is enough background information given for new readers to enjoy the story. I read one prior book in the series, and I was glad to see the character of Shayla had been “toned down” a bit and isn’t as devious or as pushy and comes across as much more likeable this time. I think it’s a little strange that at the beginning of the book, supporting character Trudy says she is Dae’s best friend, but they only have one other scene together n the whole book. Dae doesn’t confide in Trudy about many things going on in her life because Trudy is uncomfortable with Dae’s visions. It sounds like Dae may need a new best friend if there is such a large part of her life, her visions as well has her quest to contact her mom’s spirit, that she is unable to share with Trudy. Since Dae and Kevin are preoccupied with the storm, there isn’t a lot of romance happening in this book. There is also a bombshell at the end which casts a shadow on the future of their relationship.

Whether you are new to the series or not, A Spirited Gift is a good, light cozy with something for everyone. It has the small-town atmosphere of author Ellery Adams with some of the magic of Annette Blair.

Reviewed by Christine