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Beyond belief by Helen Smith
Release date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Age Group: New Adult / Adult
Series: Emily Castles Mysteries #2
When famed psychic Perspicacious Peg predicts a murder will occur at England’s Belief and Beyond conference, her science-minded colleagues recruit twenty-six-year-old budding sleuth Emily Castles to attend the event as a “future crimes investigator.” The suspected victim: celebrated magician Edmund Zenon, who plans to perform a daring stunt at the conference—and is offering fifty thousand pounds to any attendee who can prove that the paranormal exists.
In the seaside town of Torquay, Emily meets a colorful cast of characters: dramatic fortune-teller Madame Nova; kindly Bobby Blue Suit and his three psychic dachshunds; Sarah and Tim Taylor, devastated parents mourning their late son; and religious cult members Hilary, Trina, and the Colonel. Tensions rise as believers in science, the supernatural, and the spiritual clash with one another. But once a body count begins, Emily must excuse herself from the séances and positivity circles, and use old-fashioned detective work to find the killer.
Helen Smith is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the Crime Writers Association and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both–from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant–before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel. Her work has been reviewed in The Times, the Guardian, The Independent, Time Out and the Times Literary Supplement. Her books have reached number one in the bestseller lists in the Kindle store on both sides of the Atlantic.
I am a big fan of mysteries. Take that and add in the victim being a celebrated magician, and a big contest at the Belief and Beyond conference to anyone who can prove that the paranormal exists? How could I not read this book? Emily Castles is a young sleuth and she kind had a nancy drew vibe going on. Another huge plus for me. Beyond Belief, despite the fact that this is a serious murder mystery novel, it is actually surprisingly funny and was a very fun read. I know that sounds strange, but the mixture of the humor and the suspense of the mystery were an awesome combination for me. I loved this book. I couldn’t guess the twists and turns and the story had me completely engrossed and on the edge of my seat the whole time.
Beyond Belief is the second book in the Emily Castles Mysteries series, but each book can be read as a standalone. I didn’t read the first book in the mysteries series so I am not sure how much set up and background character information was given in the first book, but I never felt lost or out of plce while reading this story. The only thing I thought about was whether or not I would have gotten to know Emily Castle a little better through the first book. I feel like we did get to know her in this story well enough, but she was surrounded but such crazy and loud other characters that she seemed almost mousy in comparison. And I know that she wasn’t someone that I would classify as mousy on her own. She is spunky and independent and very resourceful, but even with all of that, she still felt overshadowed by all of the “look at me” eccentric people around her.
I am now a fan of Helen Smith. I need to check out more of her books based on her writing in Beyond Belief. She is just so spot on with her descriptions. I found myself nodding along appreciatively when I could picture EXACTLY what she was describing. I just loved it. This book will have you laughing, and scratching your head right along with Emily trying to solve the case. Beyond Belief was a huge hit for me!
Helen Smith is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, The Crime Writers Association and English PEN. She travelled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel, which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group). She writes novels, children’s books, poetry, plays and screenplays, and was the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She likes dancing but she doesn’t like driving. She likes knitting.
Helen Smith’s books have reached number one on Amazon’s bestseller lists in the US, UK, Canada and Germany. Her first book, Alison Wonderland, was one of the top five bestselling books from Amazon Publishing when it was launched in the US in 2011. In July 2013, following the publication of Invitation to Die, Helen Smith reached the top spot as “America’s most popular mystery author” on Amazon.
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