Marianne Stillings’ Killer Charms is the third book in her Darling trilogy. The previous two books earned high grades here, A- and B+ respectively, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. As a fan, I was very glad that the last book was as strong as the previous two.
Andie Darling, the younger sister of the previous two heroes, comes from a long line of good cops. As a beautiful woman, though, she feels the need to prove her abilities doubly, and show that she’s more than just a pretty face – and just as good of a police officer as her assorted male relatives. So when she is handpicked by her commander to go undercover and find evidence that Logan Sinclair, a tabloid clairvoyant, is a conman and thief, she hopes that it is her ticket to Homicide. But what appears to be a simple case becomes complicated fast, first when she begins having vivid dreams and seeing ghosts – and then when her commander blackmails her, telling her to get Sinclair, evidence or no evidence, or he’d tell everyone that she had an affair with her partner and that her brother’s hasty resignation from the police department several years earlier was because he killed a fellow cop in order to keep his own affair quiet. Neither are true, but the commander has enough evidence to destroy the careers of Andie, her partner, her brother, and her sister-in-law.
Logan, though, isn’t who he appears to be. Haunted by a tragic event when he was in college, he keeps the true voices he hears, voices of the dead, at bay while doing parlor tricks for his clients. Even when he discovers that his Andie “Devon” is a cop, he keeps up the charade, in hopes of accomplishing his goal – all while he and Andie skirt between suspicion and attraction.
Though I’m not crazy about paranormal premises, ghosts don’t usually bother me, as long as it fits in with the plot. The ghost mystery melded with the suspense, the two coming together well in the end. My only problem was that some of the dream sequences were awkwardly transitioned and didn’t fit that neatly into the rest. The suspense, too, was well done. There are some interesting twists, and Stillings does a great job of unraveling the plot, revealing secrets, and creating tension. It was all paced very well.
I also really liked Logan. His character was more complicated than it appeared, and I enjoyed getting to know the different sides to his personality. Stillings relied a bit too heavily on his brogue, though, to remind the reader that he is Scottish. All of the ayes, ochs, ghaists, and lasses got on my nerves after a while, and the phonetic expression of his accent was a bit much sometimes. And a few questions about his history and work as a clairvoyant remained after I’d finished the book.
Andie, too, I enjoyed. I very much empathized with her character and the author did a great job conveying her struggles and emotions to the reader.
Those who haven’t read the prior two books would have only one problem that I came across; a part of one of Andie’s brother’s past plays a minor role in this book. Though anyone who has read Satisfaction would know what happened, I don’t believe it’s reiterated in this book. This is a fairly minor point though, and will only cause momentary confusion. All in all, Killer Charms is a great book, and a solid end to a very good series.