After Life

Rhian Ellis, Author Viking Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-89242-6
The opening line of Ellis's debut novel, a psychological thriller, engages the reader like tossing a pork chop to a hungry dog: ""First, I had to get his body into the boat."" The intrigue is anchored and the suspense heightened by recurring themes of mysticism and the supernatural, centered on a complex, finely drawn mother and daughter relationship. Naomi Ash and her mother, Patsy (aka Madame Galina Ash), flee their hometown of New Orleans after Patsy's s ances cause some trouble with the police. They move to Train Line, N.Y., home to America's largest community of mediums and spiritualists, where Patsy hosts a radio show, The Mother Galina Psychic Hour. Patsy's psychic powers are only partly phony, and both she and Naomi give accurate psychic readings to clients. But while the mother often fakes it, Naomi is honestly searching for her true spiritual gifts, trying to determine whether she really has the power to contact the dead. The story alternates between present and past, revealing how Naomi met and fell in love with a graduate student from Oregon, Peter Morton. Details of his death come to light slowly as, 10 years later, in the present, his bones have been found. A police investigation closes in on Naomi, who has done all the wrong things--keeping Peter's personal effects, for instance. The story ends with a spooky calm rather than a bang, Ellis choosing an evocative, poetic and thoughtful denouement to an action-packed showdown. An excellent storyteller, this new author exhibits a gift for subtlety and suggestive understatement even when dealing with such potentially gaudy themes as clairvoyance, necromancy and murder. 5-city author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-14-100153-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4692-4005-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-4692-4006-0
Paperback - 310 pages - 978-1-61218-298-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4692-1236-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-4692-4007-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4692-3927-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-5012-9190-6
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