August 10, 2014

Review: Freakshow (Episode One: The Nighshade Cases)

Freakshow (Episode One: The Nightshade Cases) by Patti Larsen
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Release Date: June 13, 2014
Buy Links:

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Book Description:

When transsexual starlet Aisling is murdered, Detective Geraldine Meyers is assigned the case. With help from medical examiner Dr. Rachel Hunter, Gerri realizes this is no ordinary killing. 

While she might not want to call in over-eager anthropologist Dr. Kinsey DanAllart, the detective is forced to trust her friend’s expertise in symbology, even though doing so means admitting “weird” things might be happening in Silver City. 

As the three friends unravel the mystery of the dancer’s death, one thing is made absolutely apparent—something isn’t right in their new hometown. And someone is doing everything they can to make sure the truth doesn’t come out

In Silver City, sometimes friendship can be murder. Welcome to the first Nightshade Case, a series of twenty-one episodes in twenty-one weeks. Please note: this episodic series is based on the television show model, with screenwriting notations and shorter formats. There will be a complete mystery each week, with cliffhangers only occurring in the full season story line.

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"Freak Show" by Patti Larsen is the first ‘episode’ in the series, "The Nightshade Cases". I say ‘episode’, because Larsen has done something a little different with this series. Instead of modeling it like a normal book series, "The Nightshade Cases" is more like a TV show on the page.

"Freak Show" is the first of 21 episodes that are going to be released over 21 weeks, and each one will deal with a new mystery for the characters to solve, but there's also room for an overall arc that will span for the ‘season’. There are even notations like you would see in a screenplay, like the settings and if they're interior or exterior.

I was interested to read this story, because the whole TV show angle isn't something that I've seen in a book series before and I wanted to see how it would pan out. Thankfully, Larsen was able to make it all work. For the most part, "Freak Show" read just like any other book, except instead of being split up by chapter numbers or titles, it was split by the notations for where the scene was set.

This episode deals with the death of Aisling, a transsexual dancer, who was found stabbed to death in the alley by the club she works in, covered in crazy symbols that the police don't know what to do with. Aisling's death is a way for us to meet our three main characters – Gerri the cop, Ray the coroner, and Kinsey the anthropologist/professor. All three of these women have a preexisting relationship since they were friends in college, but after their school years fell out of touch a bit. That is, until all three of them found themselves reconnecting as each one moved to Silver City where the story takes place.

"The Nightshade Cases" is not just a mystery series, though. It also deals with the paranormal. Each of the three main characters has a special ability that's out of the norm, but they also have different degrees of how much they believe in the strange and weird. Even though Gerri has some sort of ‘gut instinct’ that helps her with her cases (way more than a normal detective's finely tuned instincts), she won't let herself believe that there's something paranormal happening.

However, her friends Ray and Kinsey are more open to the idea. Since Ray was a child, she's been able to look at someone and see what is wrong with them, whether they are sick, or even being able to tell how someone died just by looking at them. Kinsey, on the other hand, is just now starting to realize that she can influence the way other people think, and make them see things how she wants.

The three women work well together. Each one of them uses her own set of skills and abilities to help solve the case, and each proves to be an essential part of the team. Gerri, Ray, and Kinsey complement each other nicely and they not only work well together, but you can tell that they are also a good support system for one another as friends. I liked the dynamic that Larsen set up between them, and would like to see more of their teamwork in the future.

While there is paranormal dealings going on behind the scenes, "Freak Show" is mostly a cop drama where the mystery takes center stage. Since this is the first in a series, the characters are still adjusting to their abilities and working them out, and I'm sure there will be more paranormal in future episodes, which is something I'm looking forward to.

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Author Bio:

I write a lot of paranormal books for someone who is afraid of the dark. And I wonder why I have to sleep with the lights on.

Sometimes life is a teenaged B horror movie and I'm the one who investigates when the scary music is playing. But the voices are calling and resistance is…

Yes. I am a Star Trek geek, too. And a fan of RPG’s. With a slight coolness factor since I've been told I'm allowed to join the pops.

Naw. I like being a nerdy girl :)

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