Book Review

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James (winner of a RITA for The Haunting of Maddy Clare) is a historical mystery set in post WWI England and it features a psychic heroine and a scarred and wounded hero. PUT IT IN MY EYEBALLS. Also the heroine on the cover? Her hat game is strong, girl.

This book could be used to bait an Elyse-trap. Put it under a box being held up by a stick and watch me scoot my little butt right under there.

Ellie Winters (best name ever) is a psychic who uses her abilities to find lost objects. Ellie has the power to summon the dead but it’s something she fears and avoids. She refuses to do it for clients, although she can’t always keep the ghosts at bay.

Ellie is approached by George Sutton to solve the murder of his sister, Gloria. Gloria was also a psychic and was stabbed and killed at one of her seances. When she died she left a note indicating George should find Ellie. For Ellie this is particularly troubling–she and Gloria were friends, drinking and dancing all night, engaging in innocent debauchery, until Gloria discredited Ellie and her mother, painting them as frauds. Betrayal hurts, right?

Ellie is assisted, initially against her will, by James Hawley, a WWI vet who has his own ghosts to fight. James was broken by what he experienced in the war, and there’s a scene where Ellie touches him and lives his memories that perfectly illustrated the violence that he endured and the cost of Ellie’s powers:

“I saw what you saw!” His hand was icy on me. Something moved in the depths of his gaze, and suddenly I was appalled beyond measure that he had actually lived through what I had just seen–lived through that, and more. Weeks, months of it. How could anyone come through such a thing with his sanity intact?

“They were dying in the woods,” I said, knowing as I spoke that the words were inadequate, everything was inadequate. “In the undergrowth. The man on the ground next to you is named Fenton, but I can’t see what happened to him. It was something horrible, and he was screaming.”

“My God,” he said softly.

“The German took your canteen. After the battle, after you’d been injured. I don’t know whether he was thirsty, or whether it was just a trophy. That’s the belonging you were thinking about–the canteen. Wasn’t it? A gift from your father. You lost it, and you wanted to know what happened to it.” My throat felt as though lined with sandpaper. “He lived barely sixteen hours after he took it. His body fell in a ditch; no one found it. Not until after the war, and it was so–so decomposed, they–”

His grip tightened. “Stop it.”

The James/ Ellie tension is increased exponentially by the fact that James believes that psychics or skimmers (frauds) prey on the grief of those who have already lost so much. Already betrayed by Gloria, Ellie doesn’t appreciate James’ skepticism. Further complicating things, years ago James was part of the group that tested psychics and renounced Ellie and her mom.

The mystery takes Ellie and James to the underworld of her trade–frauds who use parlor tricks in order to get drug money, loose women, looser men, all amid the start of the Jazz Age with flappers and really excellent hats. I loved it all.

I thought the end was well done too which is SO important in a mystery. If the end flops it’s like almost having an orgasm and then the cat jumps on your head, scaring you. (Not that that’s ever happened to me personally. Nope.) The Other Side of Midnight delivers the mystery-O at the end.

I also loved the romance between Ellie and James. She’s the only person who can understand the pain and shell shock that torments James because she can literally relive it with him. He pushes her away because he’s fucked up, but he was attracted to her before the war and he’s having trouble keeping his distance now. Ellie has a lot of past to get over with James, but she also sees that the war changed him. He believes in her ability now, but it’s too little too late in many ways.

St. James does a great job of infusing the book with a sort of bleakness that comes from so much loss. Even Gloria, who is portrayed as a selfish party-girl, lost all but one brother in the war and was plagued by it. It’s a tired world, full of ghosts, and it makes for an immersive reading experience.

If you like historical mysteries or books set post WWI or psychic heroines then I recommend The Other Side of Midnight. It delivers the romance, suspense and historical melodrama it promises.


Elyse has a copy of The Other Side of Midnight and Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James to give away! This giveaway is open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Winners must be over 18 and prepared to read. Void where prohibited. We are not being compensated for this giveaway. However, we are wearing comfortable socks and shoes.

Winner will be chosen at random on Friday 22 May 2015 and will be announced same day. Please note: if you have any problems with the Copter o’ Raffle, please email me. Thanks, Elyse!

 

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The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

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  1. June says:

    This actually sounds like catnip to me too! However, am I so old now that I’m the only one that was wondering why you were reviewing a Sidney Sheldon book when I saw the title???

  2. Becca says:

    Wow, you sold me. I usually prefer Regency era historicals but your review has convinced me to read this.

  3. Aislinn says:

    I’ll join you under that box. This sounds so completely up my alley!

  4. jen says:

    Ooh, I like that excerpt

  5. Kate says:

    @June, LOL, that was my first thought as well!

    I need to delete SB from my RSS feed for a while before I bankrupt myself with all these new books I’m dying to read.

  6. Karen D says:

    I LOVE Simone St. James. I started reading your review, thinking I had read this but no! I somehow missed this one. I stopped reading so nothing will be spoiled. I’m really glad to see you loved it though.

  7. LSUReader says:

    Ooooh…sounds great. I’m going to look these books up now. Thanks for the post and giveaway.

  8. Mochabean says:

    @June I had the exact same reaction. The Sidney Sheldon book was one I read in high school in the early 80s!. So I’m right there with you!!!

  9. Kareni says:

    This series sounds incredibly enticing! Thanks for the review.

  10. Linda says:

    Sounds great!

  11. DonnaMarie says:

    So glad I’m not the only one with a Sidney Sheldon flashback. Was that the one with the ice?

    Anyway, need this book. Need it bad.

  12. kary rader says:

    I am so with you on this one, Elyse. It goes on my short list of favs and Simone St. James is now auto-buy for me.

  13. neurondoc says:

    I also thought of Sidney Sheldon. And catnip, yes. I’ll slurp me up some romantic catnip, please…

  14. Lara says:

    I picked up The Haunting of Maddy Clare last year thanks to the Bitchery, and have now read my way through Ms. St. James’ work. She just cannot write a bad book, and the blend of historical fiction, paranormal (reluctant spiritualism is one of my favorite tropes) and just enough romance to add spice is delightful.

    Now, to finish The Other Side of Midnight before bed.

  15. denise says:

    love the cover

  16. Samantha says:

    I am SO excited to read these books! Historical creepiness is practically my favorite thing.

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