Review: South of Salem by Janni Nell

25 May

South of Salem by Janni Nell
Carina Press (May 30, 2011)
e-book: $4.99 (66,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426891670

Favorite Lines: “”The Sir Galahad Award for Honorable Treatment of Women.”

I didn’t ask whether he was serious. I could tell by his expression that he was. Curious, I asked, “Who are the other nominees?”

“Henry the Eighth, Caligula and Jack the Ripper.”” (p. 108)

My mother thinks my job is crazy. I’m a paranormal investigator; she’s Nancy Reagan crossed with Martha Stewart. She’s always preferred my sister, Lily, who is following in her perfect footsteps.

But this time Mom needs my special skills. She believes my stepfather is possessed. I admit he’s not his usual dapper, charming self, but sleepwalking doesn’t sound that weird. Until the sleepwalking spreads through the family and cousin Donna walks right out of her apartment window to her death. Then my sister goes missing and I have to find her and solve the mystery before Lily and her unborn child are harmed.

Normally I would have assistance, but my right hand, a hunky angel I’ve nicknamed Casper, has business of his own to take care of-business that might take him out of my life forever. The stakes are too high for me to lose, but I’m not sure I can do it alone…

South of Salem is book two in Janni Nell’s Allegra Fairweather mystery miniseries. It follows the heroine Allegra’s investigations of the paranormal. In South of Salem, Allegra faces off with a dangerous and powerful entity set on destroying Allegra’s dysfunctional family.

I didn’t read the first book in the series; I didn’t realize there was a first book called Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator. Despite skipping the book which probably would have set this one up nicely, I kinda liked the story. It’s not a romance. It’s not an urban fantasy. But it is an interesting mystery involving witches and angels.

Once I got over being confused by the references to Allegra’s past investigations and her dislike for her family, I had to deal with the squickiness of Allegra’s biological sister being married her stepbrother. Okay, it’s all baggage under the bus that made me pick up on the paranormal problems which could arise. I didn’t know why Allegra’s stepfamily was being targeted for extermination, but it was entertaining to read about.

I got to admit that I really didn’t like Allegra. She was very immature. Maybe that’s what makes her charming, but for me it got old. It was funny when she spied on her guardian angel Casper. However as the end of the story approached and Allegra was still creating situations which would allow her to touch Casper, I became exasperated. Her voice (in my mind as I read the story) sounded manipulative and sly. And not in a good way. Another thing, for an investigator she sure can be dumb. I wanted to punch her when she became jealous of the obvious hints which came time and time again. Doing so allowed the story to continue longer, but it showcased exactly how immature Allegra really is.

South of Salem is nicely written, but when I’m not sure I ever liked the main character my overall enjoyment of the book is diminished. Allegra acts and speaks childishly. Her crush on Casper is cute, but other than the sexual draw, it felt like a 13-year-old’s attraction toward the new boy in school. The mystery was well developed, but I don’t like Allegra enough to continue this miniseries.

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