First off- this is a five star book that sits somewhere in the ground between murder mystery and paranormal genres. I don’t think it quite manages the bridge, though I’m sure that plenty of readers will disagree. The book is clearly marketed as paranormal mystery, so it isn’t like anyone should be surprised by the ground covered. However, the book starts a long way from paranormal, in a sort of commercial backstreet of hazy time passed town. Then suddenly, we are in a world of crazies, where the strongest characters are all walking dead or missing.
My view is that Broadwell would have done better by plotting the book firmly on one side or the other of the murder mystery-paranormal trench. Perhaps my view is fatuous, based too much on taste, so enough of that. As to the quality and the style of the writing, they are both top-drawer, as they always are with Nikki Broadwell’s books.
This plot starts with a whimsical backwater charm, in which the ‘witchcraft’ is really more to do with a world of herbs and spices and mental illusion, centred in the whimsical behaviours of eccentric dreamers, rather than in paranormal genre characters that are conjured out of evil. The ghosts, when we eventually forced into seeing them as such, seem to be more interesting constructions than many of the living.
I enjoyed reading Murder in Plain Sight, even if I really believe that it would have been better plotted as a plain whodunit, with realistic characters that merely play in a world of potions, candles, and woodland exhibitionism. The plots drift into otherworld environs where real paranormal abilities abound is hard to reconcile.
The characters are all well drawn, with the principal ones being painted in sufficient and yet never overworked colour. The settings are made visual and some of the inconsistencies in the plot can be explained away by drawing on the paranormal. That Summer seemed to struggle to remember exactly what her mother looks like, or even to be aware of the existence of others so physically close to her is certainly worrying, unless one mentally rewrites early events in the book. Necessary reappraisal in the light of change is reasonable, especially in murder mystery; however it mustn’t jar with previous information. Or one can do as I did and simply believe that Summer suffered a severe case of aphantasia.
To sum up, this is a case of great writing that within the tight confines of each chapter is very entertaining, and yet somehow the end result doesn’t quite all fit together. I am really looking forward to reading other reviews as I’m sure that opinion will vary widely. This would be a great book club read as I’m sure it would generate plenty of debate.