Strong Spirits is set in the 1920s, so it is a historical mystery in a way. Moreover, it is set in 1920s California, very different a place from Downton, let me tell you. The roaring 20s have been the stage for masterpieces like The Great Gatsby, and Strong Spirits is nothing less.
Daisy Gumm is a precocious child. She comes from a working class family. She grows up surrounded by millionaires and rich folk. Her aunt is a cook in one such mansion. Her father is a chauffer, and Daisy herself finds her vocation at the age of 10. She dabbles in the occult, you see? Now what could be more unexpected for an unsuspecting reader? Daisy finds she is skillful with an Ouija board and she learns everything associated with the other realm, like tarot cards, and holding a séance. She doesn’t tell fortunes, mind you, because that would be illegal!
In the pre-war frenzy, Daisy marries her highschool sweetheart, a boy she just has a crush on. He comes back wounded and crippled for life. So Daisy is the sole provider for the family, and she thanks her lucky stars that business is good.
Mrs. Kincaid is an old client who takes a lot of Daisy’s time, but also gets her a lot of new business. Mr. Kincaid disappears one fine day, and Daisy is roped in to read the cards and provide moral support. She goes a few steps ahead and starts solving the mystery, while the Inspector on the case frowns.
Characters like the pot smoking young daughter of the Kincaids, and their wordly wise son add color. Daisy’s friends and aunt are her support system. Billy is not too bad. Daisy Gumm loves the work of Mary RObers Reinhart, just like me, and tries to put herself in Ms. Reinhart’s shoes whenever she is stumped. There were times initially when the whole narrative seemed to drag a bit, but I am glad I persisted and read on.
Strong Spirits brings us a fresh new woman sleuth who is refreshing and entertaining. Daisy Gumm Majesty will entertain you plenty.