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It's All Smoke & Mirrors by Therese…
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It's All Smoke & Mirrors (2007)

by Therese Szymanski

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Entertaining lesnov. This book is arranged as a set of three short stories, but they are about the same people and structured chronologically, so it reads more like a novel than a book of stories. I enjoyed all three, although the quality varied a bit.

They all revolve around Shawn Donnelly, an Irish-born lesbian who lives in Detroit, and her cadre of friends and coworkers. Shawn comes from a long line of psychic women, and she gets this weird itch at the back of her head when something JUST ISN'T RIGHT with what's going on around her....

In the first story, Shawn meets some old college friends at a cabin in the woods, during a snowstorm. All of the familiar late night campfire story elements are there: the power and phone lines go out, they're stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way to get away or call for help, and Shawn finds one of their party dead. Is there some stranger hiding there among them, ready to kill them in their sleep? OR, is it possible that one of this crowd of old and dear college friends is a murderer? OR could it be one of the newcomers who accompanied a college buddy? It all gets to be a bit much for Shawn, as she starts wondering who killed her ex-lover, and why...

The plotting is good, but the ending to this story was telegraphed way too soon. I think it was supposed to be a surprise, but all it managed to do was make the main character look a bit dense. Oh, well. It was still a fun read.

In the second story, Shawn begins to suspect that one of her coworkers is a serial killer working in her part of Detroit. Is this woman the serial killer as Shawn suspects? Or is she just a mystery novelist, as she claims.... And, if she isn't the killer, then who is....?

I enjoyed this story more, and was entertained by the ending, although parts of the story seemed a bit unrealistic.

But the best story of all is the third one, in which Shawn and her friends stage a semi-improvisational murder mystery theater piece, in which the audience is supposed to participate in solving the staged murder mystery. Only the show isn't supposed to involve TWO bodies - one with real blood!

I enjoyed this piece most of all, because the author took us way outside of the usual constructs for such a story. It is fun, funny, and has a wholly unsuspected ending! In fact, I can honestly say that I've never read another lesbian novel/mystery with an ending even remotely similar to this one. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

All in all, I thought IT'S ALL SMOKE & MIRRORS by Therese Szymanski was an entertaining read. I'd give it a thumbs up, and would enjoy reading more about this character. ( )
  Carol_M_in_NJ | Mar 7, 2009 |
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