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Book Review: A Haunting Dream (A Missing Pieces Mystery) by Joyce and Jim Lavene

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With A Haunting Dream, the husband and wife duo of Jim and Joyce Lavene deliver another charming tale set in Duck, North Carolina, but it would have been more enjoyable if they adhered to the old adage that less is more. Yes, folks, even this spicy tamale partakes in the simple things. Close your mouth. Yes, I mean you. I did mention a few weeks ago, I was behavin’ and I am. What? You thought it was just so the jolly one would ply me with his striped stick and shimmy down my chimney? Aaahhh, no! Perhaps if he was Maverick dressed as ‘ole Saint Nick we’d get to melting ice, warming our wickedly delicious treats and I’d be smokin’ his eights and roastin’ his chestnuts over my open fire (wink). Alas, I have to curb my sinfully scrumptious craving for the Mav. How come? I am behavin’…even misbehavin’ is behavin’. So, come on big boy, give it to mama. Giddy up, Maverick! (wink)

While the essence of charm and frivolity is captured within the pages of the fourth installment of A Missing Pieces Mystery series, it isn’t anything to really savor (or sink your chicklets into)… unless you enjoy popping Tums or swigging Pepto-Bismol. The Lavenes are an exceedingly talented pair of writers, but this entry is clearly not their best work. I am not saying it is meant for picking up refuse at the dog park, folks, I am just saying it is a tarnished tome. The authors have entered the “Good gravy! I need an antacid, some doses of Nyquil, and a hammer to knock some sense into me for continuing to read it” zone.”

Yep, I am a perfectionist so I had to ride it out (don’t judge ‘cause I am working on it… sort of like Boehner and his cohorts are working on the fiscal cliff). In the case of A Haunting Dream, the team enters over-the-top territory with the missing kid storyline. Really? Stick with what you know and leave the Scottoline plotline to Lisa Scottoline. As for the vanilla beige (read: predictably boring) toss-in of Dae’s boyfriend Kevin’s ex-fiancée Ann and we are teetering into the grand dame realm of Parris Afton Bonds. Aaahhh, no! Leave those who excel in their specific genre in their natural habitat. Let’s not change the recipe… remember the Coca Cola debacle?

Speaking of recipes for success, the mayor of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O’Donnell, is a lady with a knack for locating mislaid possessions. Every now and then it points her to misplaced earrings or keys—and on occasion it tips her to murder. When Dae’s suitor Kevin’s ex-fiancée Ann (say that three times fast!) lands in Duck hoping for another go, Dae unexpectedly catches herself facing misery. Although her starry-eyed existence is in disarray, she’s further alarmed by the unforeseen deviation in her ability. After manipulating a medallion belonging to Chuck Sparks, Dae is shaken when her revelation exposes his slaying and a plea for comfort.

Dae doesn’t distinguish the dead gent’s entreaty to “Help her,” until she experiences an image of an abducted girl who turns out to be Chuck’s daughter, Betsy. With a kid missing, the FBI takes the lead trying to locate Betsy. However Dae can’t discount her forecasts of Betsy, or the point that Kevin’s intuitive ex-fiancée may turn out to be the only person who can help locate her.

As authors, the Lavenes out-rival most with their outstanding storytelling, and their paranormal “missing pieces” take is rather refreshing. Toss in their quirky band of characters and A Missing Pieces Mystery is a fun series, but A Haunted Dream is sidetracked with unenthusiastic and frustrating distractions that make it lackluster. Here’s hoping someone “finds” a jewelry cloth to clean away the sooty debris left in this volume.

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About Diane Morasco