From the publisher’s website:
When psychic travel agent Leda Foley is approached by a man searching for his sister, she quickly agrees to help. The missing woman disappeared with a vintage orange car, a fat sack of her employer’s cash, and a grudge against her philandering husband—a man who never even reported her missing. Meanwhile, Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt has temporarily misplaced his dog. While he’s passing out bright pink “Lost” flyers at the Mount Rainier visitor’s center, the wayward pooch appears—with a human leg in his mouth. Thanks to DNA matching, Grady learns that the leg has something to do with Leda’s new client, and soon the two cases are tangled.
This is great. Seriously, so. much. FUN. This is a 100% caper with shenanigans and hijinks and weird things being just stuff that happens. And a dog.
The weird stuff is very on brand for Priest, who up til now has mostly written horror, but rather than being creepy or grim the odd happenings are presented as just another day in the life of somewhat erratic but accurate psychic Leda. (I had zombie nightmares MONTHS after finishing another book, so Priest knows from creepy.)
Something I really appreciate post-lockdowns is that the heavy stuff never turns into misery porn. Both books in the series deal with grief and anger and the general failure of the universe to be kind to us, from murdered loved ones to the horrible ache of not knowing what has happened to your loved ones, but Priest never makes it miserable just because Suffering is Literary(TM). The dog is using a dismembered leg as a chew toy, and that is treated as gross and worrying but also: dogs gonna dog. Leda has lost her fiance and she mourns and works through her grief but it’s never voyeuristic “look at her misery!” – it’s sympathising with loss that we all feel, sooner or later. Excuse the nostalgia, but let’s bring back murder mysteries that were fun rather than bleak and hopeless and made you wonder about the author’s soul.
The plot is wonderful and twisty, and I did guess the general outline of Leg Guy’s fate but not at all the disappearing woman. None of the twists feel contrived, like “I shall do this completely weird thing that makes no sense with the previous 90% of the book and readers shall be delighted!” (Spoiler: we aren’t, we’re just baffled.) Even the final twist made perfect sense with the hints that were dropped through the book, so that I didn’t mind that I baffled but thought “oh, so that’s what happened!”.
And finally, I love how the main characters know who they are and accept who they are. Middle-aged Grady knows he’s middle-aged, and despite having a teenager to point out how uncool he is, never sweats it, but also doesn’t become a guy who shouts at clouds. Leda does klairvoyant karoake, which is about as public as one can get. She’s also very honest about the limitations of what she can do, always leading with a disclaimer that it’s hard to predict, hard to interpret, and sometimes just doesn’t happen. She’s a decent human being, not a sociopath; Leda doesn’t want to hurt people. And Niki – I love Niki, sidekick extraordinaire who knows who she is and takes no shit about that or anything else.
Also, the scene where a suspect attempts to escape Grady is *chef’s kiss*.