Monday, August 5, 2013

Review/Author Interview: Pall in the Family by Dawn Eastman

Blurb: The aptly named Crystal Springs is the destination for tourists seeking psychics, séances, and the promise of contacting the spirit world. In this small western Michigan town, everyone knows the Fortune family. Rose is gifted with tarot card readings. Her sister, Vi, is a self-proclaimed pet psychic. And Rose’s daughter Clyde is…

A cop. A cop on leave from Ann Arbor, more specifically, who’s come home to kooky Crystal Springs to reevaluate her life. Mom and Aunt Vi can’t wait for Clyde to finally embrace her own psychic gifts and join the family business. Clyde would prefer the low-stress lifestyle of a dog walker and the low-key company of her nephew, Seth.

But when a local psychic is killed, leaving behind a traumatized Shih Tzu, it seems to be in the cards for Clyde to get involved. With her old flame Mac leading the investigation, that may prove awkward. Whether she uses her skills as a cop or her long-denied psychic abilities, it’s up to Clyde to divine a killer’s identity before someone else suffers more misfortune.

My Review: The cover of this book alone assured me that I was going to adore it: the creepy Victorian with the bat outside the window (which plays a big role in the opening scene), the two adorable pooches (who turn out to be the only witnesses to crimes involving their owners), and one of the gossipy neighborhood cats who chat with the delightful Aunt Vi the pet psychic.

Clyde Fortune is a cop on leave from her job in the city who has moved back in with her family. She does her best to shun the "gifts" she was born with because of a terrible incident on the job, and is attempting to settle into a peaceful life as a dog walker until she gets her life back together. Any thoughts of a quiet existence are shattered when she finds the body of a local psychic and takes her Shih Tzu Tuffy home. The victim, Tish, was Clyde's childhood babysitter and they shared a special bond. Clyde can't understand who could have killed her, but with the help of her ragtag band of amateur sleuths, discovers that the quaint town of Crystal Springs is hiding some secrets thought long buried.

A standout character for me is Clyde's nephew Seth, which is unusual because I'm not usually a fan of kids in cozies. His love for animals and the way they respond to him leads him to discover his "talent".  In this book he's just visiting for the summer, but I sure hope he finds a way to stick around Crystal Springs.

Towards the end of the book I was scared to death that a cardinal rule of cozy mysteries had been broken, but I was greatly relieved when I finished that I had been wrong. You'll see what I mean when you pick up the first Family Fortune's a fantastic debut!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher with the request for a review.


Interview with Dawn Eastman
Tell us about your Family Fortune Mysteries...what inspired the series?
The Family Fortune Mysteries focus on Clytemnestra (Clyde) Fortune. She’s an ex-police officer who reluctantly returns to her home town after her career implodes. Her family is thrilled because they think she will finally join the “family business” of being a psychic. Crystal Haven is a tourist town in Western Michigan that boasts every sort of new age or psychic offering available. Clyde tries to ignore her psychic insights while dodging her family’s pressure to join them in their “psychic empire.” Pet psychic Aunt Vi has arranged for Clyde to work as a dog walker until she “sees reason” and joins them. Her summer is complicated by a visiting teen nephew, a few dogs, a murder, and the reappearance of her old flame, Mac, who happens to be a homicide detective.

The series was inspired by several things. I had just finished writing another mystery novel that didn't turn out the way I had hoped. I was tired of the characters and looking for something more fun and quirky. Clyde just showed up. She had a mother and an aunt who drove her nuts and she was somewhat lost in her life - at a crossroads in trying to figure out where to go next. The book evolved from that first glimpse of these three women. Other characters began appearing and I realized I could spend more than one book in this little town. I also vacationed on the west coast of Michigan around the same time and remembered how much I love that area. I grew up in southeast Michigan and lived in Ann Arbor for many years, but I keep returning to Grand Haven and Saugatuck.

Can you introduce us to the adorable cats and dogs on the cover?
Clyde encounters lots of dogs in her new job as a dog walker. The shih tzu in the mailbox is named Tuffy. Unfortunately, his owner is found dead early in the book and against her better judgement, Clyde takes him in until arrangements can be made. He’s quite imperious and he and Clyde don’t warm to each other. The mastiff near the porch is Baxter. He is another one of Clyde's clients who happens to be boarding with her during the time of the book. He and Tuffy form a tight bond and he also worms his way into Clyde’s affections. A good friend of mine has already formed a Baxter fan club, if anyone is interested...

The cat represents one of the many informers who provide Aunt Violet with clues throughout the book.

What do you have for pets?
I currently have a bichon-shih Tzu mix named Rowdy. He is very bossy and protects his domain with the tenacity of a pit bull. We have a constantly changing group of fish. Right now Fred is alone in the tank quietly cleaning the algae.

Growing up I rarely had less than two dogs and often another pet or rescue animal. I grew up with turtles, mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, parakeets, injured birds and squirrels, a cat, and many dogs.

Who is your favorite character? Any of them based on yourself?
I think Violet has become my favorite. As a writer I find that whenever I am stuck in a scene, I can always count on Vi to shake things up. She also writes my blog, which I appreciate.

None of the characters are based on me, but I do sympathize with Clyde’s role as the “straight man” to a cast of wacky friends and family members – I won’t say which ones are in the “wacky” category, they know who they are.

What's a typical writing day for you?
I have two kids, so during the school year I write in the mornings after everyone is off to school and try to meet a word count goal. In the summer things are a little more haphazard. I still try to meet a word count, but that might happen early before anyone is awake, or late, or while waiting for kid activities. It also depends on what I’m working on. If I’m editing and on a deadline, I usually have a certain number of pages to complete each day. Some days that goes quickly, other sections can be an all day task. If I’m outlining a new book, I might work for a couple of hours in the morning and then try to get back to it again in the afternoon. 

Do you have any psychic abilities?
I've had a lot of odd coincidences that could be construed as psychic if pressed. For instance, just recently I was working on photos from a vacation and I thought to myself that I really wished I had gotten a specific picture off of my husband's phone before he went to work. I knew he had a busy day and didn't want to bother him so I just made a note to remind myself to get it that evening. I opened my email program a few minutes later and there was the picture - my husband had just sent it to me. Maybe he's psychic....

Those types of things have happened over the years, but nothing like the premonitions or dreams that Clyde experiences. 

What are you currently working on?
I'm working on book 3 of the Family Fortune Mysteries. It’s set in a haunted castle and features a gang of overzealous knitters.

headshot dawn eastman

About Dawn Eastman
Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. She now lives in Iowa with her husband, son, daughter, and one extremely bossy small dog. Pall in the Family is her first novel.
Twitter: @DawnAEastman


katsrus said...

Thanks for the review. Sounds so good. Love the cover. Wonderful interview.
Sue B

dollycas aka Lori said...

Fabulous post!! Thank you for kicking off this tour with a bang!!

Unknown said...

Thank you for hosting! I enjoyed answering your interview questions and I'm thrilled you enjoyed the book.

Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard said...

Good review and interview -- I enjoyed them both. This looks like the sort of series that will really appeal to me. I'm off to put them on my to-read list.

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

I love that cover too! Mystery, a little Woowoo, some wonderful four legged people and that victorian all sound great to me!

Dru said...

Great review and interview. Looking forward to reading this book.