Abby has ‘guides’, spirits who help her make sense of her intuitive abilities. Abby can ask a question of her guides and depending on which side of her body responds, she’ll have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to her query. Sometimes Abby will feel compelled to speak a string of warnings and observations to a person, everything from telling them to get that wart checked out to knowing that they’re having problems with house-training their cat.
Despite her unique gift, Abby is firmly ‘vanilla’ flavoured ice-cream. She is boring. She hasn’t had a relationship in forever, she lives to renovate her house and the most company she keeps is with her pet dog, Eggy.
When we meet her, Abby is working in consultation, giving readings to clients... that is, until one of her clients turns up dead. Abby is thrown into the middle of a police investigation headed by hunky detective Dutch Rivers.
‘Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye’ and ‘Better Read Than Dead’ are the first two books in Victoria Laurie’s series (currently with 8 books). ‘Psychic Eye Mystery’ is a cozy mystery – with Abby Cooper as the unlikely sleuth protagonist. The ‘hook’ of having a psychic as an amateur sleuth is wonderful and provides a lot of opportunity for intrigue. I went into the books thinking that if handled incorrectly, Abby’s psychic ability could just be a quick escape route for a clumsy plot. But Laurie has written a very ‘straight’ psychic in Abby, and she is quick to warn people that her intuition doesn’t have an on/off button and is never crystal clear. It works really well that while Abby can provide some hints to the greater mystery, often times the real hunt is in trying to sort out the cryptic clues of Abby’s intuition.
The other benefit of a ‘cozy’ mystery is, of course, the romantic entanglements. Because cozy’s aren’t as reliant on blood/gore they do prefer the softer side of things, often including a long-running will-they-or-won’t-they romance for the protagonist. The ‘Psychic Eye Mystery’ is no different, and Abby’s love interest is detective (soon to be FBI agent) Dutch Rivers who links Abby to one of her clients who winds up dead.
The romance fell a bit flat in the first two books. In ‘Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye’ there’s a lot of back-and-forth between Abby and Dutch, as he tries to come to terms with his attraction and scepticism. In the first book their initial attraction leaves them yo-yoing and nothing is sure between them by book’s end. In book two, ‘Better Read than Dead’, Dutch is on his first undercover FBI job and therefore absent for most of the book... generally it feels like romance isn’t Victoria Laurie’s strong-suit, purely because she seems reluctant to write much of it. Admittedly, two books in you don’t really want to find resolutions for your protagonist’s HEA... but I wanted more on the romantic front. Book two was slightly better for Dutch and Abby’s romantic tension, especially since Dutch got assigned a hot FBI partner who provided many laughs for Abby’s pricked jealousy;
“I've got breaking news for you, buddy,” I said, wobbling slightly as the wine wrecked havoc with my balance. “You may not realize it, but you’re partnered up with Miss F-B-I’m-a-whore over there...”The mysteries in each book are great. Like I said, Abby’s psychic ability adds a second layer of mystery to the plot. There were many times when Abby’s intuition provided red herrings and others when everything fell into place and previously disjointed plots and clues fell neatly together and I was able to step back and applaud Laurie’s writer foresight.
I will say that the one drawback of the series may just be Abby Cooper herself. In the beginning she admits that if she were a flavour of ice-cream, she would be vanilla. I started out liking the ironic contrast of a very straight-laced psychic, but at some point I just wanted her to be *more*. A little more funny, with a little more pizzazz and charisma. The comedic pace did start to pick-up in book #2, and I have a feeling that subsequent books will follow the same bent.
I really liked the first two books in the ‘Psychic Eye Mystery’ series. I do appreciate a good cozy mystery, and having a psychic amateur sleuth is a great cozy mix. But if you’re not a fan of the cozy then the ‘Psychic Eye’ series is unlikely to change your mind.
Victoria Laurie has me a little bit hooked, on the promise that character funniness and the protagonist’s appeal picks up in the books ahead. I will definitely be reading more, but I might pace myself.