The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod

1st in series – Her Majesty’s Psychic Service

Alex Pendlebury is a forensic psychic reader, able to detect the emotions of people, even after they’ve left. Her skills come in handy, serving as a lie detector and a good start to uncovering a perpetrator’s motive. But when she’s called to a hanging suicide just before Christmas in London, 1879, Alex has a unique experience. The dead man’s emotional trace contains no indication of depression or desperation and the physical evidence indicates the suicide may have in fact been a murder. Even more strange, if there was a murderer, he or she left behind no emotional trace at all.

Shortly, Alex learns that the hanged man is a member of her family and she launches her own investigation with the help and protection of handsome Sergeant Brooks, a somewhat mysterious but utterly trustworthy addition to the Service.

The plot takes off on a jam-packed series of events over the course of just a day or so but the narrative suffers from choppy writing. The sequence of shootouts, clandestine meetings, and intrigue should result in a fast-paced story but Alex still finds time to take tea. Still, she’s an admirable and plucky character who shows reasonable vulnerability when it comes to her own emotions. The first in a proposed series, a little more polish could make this an entertaining series with an appealing blend of good characterization, historical detail, chaste romance, and
paranormal/steampunk elements.

 

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