SPIRITED by Mary Behre: Offers Precious “Crifts”



Spirited by Mary Behre

A Tidewater Novel
by Mary Behre
Berkley Sensation a Penguin Random House Company
04 Mar 2014
Mass Market Paperback and e-book formats: 320 pages

Galley Provided by publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.  No Remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own unless otherwise noted.

She’s running from who she is…

All Jules Scott wants is to live a normal, quiet life—preferably one that doesn’t include ghosts. Jules’s talent for communicating with the dead has brought her nothing but trouble. Despite her best efforts, needy spirits always find her and draw her into their otherworldly drama. When one implicates her in a series of deadly crimes, she may need to entrust her secrets to the person least likely to believe her…

He’ll do whatever it takes to catch her.

Detective Seth English can’t get distracted from the big case he’s working on, not even by his alluring new neighbor. He doesn’t believe that Jules had anything to do with the string of robberies-turned-murders that he’s investigating, but when she keeps showing up in all the wrong places, his gut tells him she knows more than she’s letting on. To solve his case, he’ll need to expose what the sexy redhead is hiding—no matter how impossible the truth may be…


 My Take!


I have to begin this on a side note — a blogger’s note: I generally choose my reads based on either my need to read something because of a deadline or my need to read something I have really wanted to read. So, I do not pick books thematically. I wonder why it is that I find the same theme sometimes with in a few books of  each other.  A year ago it was two books in one weekend with the same bizarre sexual Freudian typo, a few weeks ago it was maternal abandonment,  then paternal abandonment.  And now, in the past week I have read two books where women had cancer when they learned they were pregnant and the cancer advanced due to the pregnancy hormones, and an inability to treat during pregnancy.

Is this coincidence? Or is there a mysterious force at work? Has my reading life become a paranormal plot?!?!? Do you ever find this type of synchronicity?

Okay back to the book at hand. This was a relatively good read, a little ponderous in the rehashing of characters’ issues, some responses to past events that seemed a bit out of proportion.   The chemistry between the two main characters is really interesting, especially having been magically instigated.

The main character here talks to ghosts. She calls it a “crift:” a curse and a gift. She seems to have some  understanding of her abilities at times and then no clue at others.  At the same time, her abilities seem to be expanding. But, the mechanics and the reasons for her abilities are never explained, nor is her sudden ability to read the aura of  the living.

I enjoyed the use of the word “crift” as it reasonably describes the issues a character with these abilities would face —it’s used judiciously and is cute. But another word, “Precious,” Seth’s nickname for  Jules, is inexplicably assigned when they meet and he uses it more than Golem. Ugh!  If I were Jules I would have smacked him, but with him being a cop that would be a bad idea.

The disproportional reaction I didn’t like was Jules’ distrust of police officers after a particularly bad episode with an ex-husband. Yes, he was an ass-hat, but to distrust all cops because of the bad behavior of one cop and one department is a little out of whack when you know why it happened. And, her husband deserved to be left for not believing her to the extent he did. He didn’t just believe in her crift but he believed the worst of her.

Would the marriage have survived if she hadn’t told him about her gifts; had just been  a suspect because she knew too much? Or, if independent of the precipitative event she had told him and he actually believed her would they have stayed together? It would be tough to believe your spouse could see and communicate with ghosts, and I’d be angry he hadn’t trusted enough to reveal it before the marriage.

Does love mean having a blind trust in the person? What do you think?

The mystery is well plotted. The false leads are laid out well and stripped away slowly, revealing the perp scant pages before hand. Up until the final few minutes you’ll wonder who the good guys and bad guys are.  This allowed me to think I knew what was happening but not feeling like the “good cop” was terribly stupid.  There was one thing she didn’t see that was too dumb. And, what, the ghost couldn’t explain?

While the author does a good job layering the elements of the mystery, I think  the untidy ends are a little too neatly trimmed.  The right person shows up at the right time, with the right answer too often.  I felt there was a lack of emotional depth to the characters: something would happen, for example Jules is attacked and injured, she got upset but then insisted on going to work.  Really? There’s a lot story depth but it isn’t followed through to the characters’ hearts (like the oft written “smile that doesn’t reach a character’s eyes”).

But I did get through the whole thing quickly because it’s entertaining: a fun read with an interesting mystery. It shows people doing inexplicably stupid things and going on with additional idiotic behavior; being all too human if somewhat dispassionate.

Relevant Links MaryBehre.com At Penguin

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