S.D. Tooley

Worldwide / 299 pages / 1st edition (2006)

ISBN: 1931081549

Let’s see… I came into the Sam Casey series on the third book… That means I’d better get it in gear and read When the Dead Speak and Nothing Else Matters. After speeding through Restless Spirit, I realise this detective is one worth getting to know from the beginning. Of course, I should have known that from S.D. Tooley’s “Lee Driver” books. Her blend of the pragmatic and the paranormal is as enticing as her inviting, assured prose.

For those unacquainted with Sam Casey, she’s an insightful, headstrong detective with Chasen Height’s finest. True, she’s a cop on suspension for a questionable shooting, forbidden from pursuing cases. And her outspoken attitude has made her a political liability. And she’s something of a pariah at the moment, but that isn’t only because her position is so tenuous at the moment; her colleagues are more likely put off by her psychic ability to gain information from the dead.

So what if she can touch a piece of physical evidence and find herself viewing the crime as it happened? Some co-workers will look for any excuse to ostracise anyone who is a little different.

Suspension or not, Samantha Casey cannot ignore the scenes she glimpses of a murder that shocked the small town over fifteen years ago. What she sees convinces her that the wrong man has been sitting on death row all this time. Time is rapidly running out as the execution date approaches. Reopening this “solved” case is only going to make her more unpopular, but that’s nothing she hasn’t faced before and certainly nothing to cause her to back down.

S.D. Tooley is at her creative best in this latest mystery, keeping the pace relentless, the dialogue ear-perfect, and her characters believable and complex. If “believable” seems an odd word to use to describe a paranormal mystery, it’s only because you haven’t entered her world yet. She layers Sam with American Indian heritage and background that never venture near the overly solemn, hokey mysticism that tarnishes so many attempts at this type of story line. Everything about Sam, including the contradictions between her ancestry and the cynicism of contemporary, white-bread America, seems completely natural and human. Her “sensitivity” simply is. Sam is what she is. Whatever others might think of her hardly enters the picture.

The odds are against Sam Casey, and even more against a possibly innocent man. Whether she and her eclectic circle of supporters can find the answers and right a shocking wrong is a question that will keep you reading long into the night.

Restless Spirit is a ticking time bomb of a novel — tense, graphic, and enigmatic. The kind of book you can’t wait to get back to and wish would go on after you reach the final word. You might actually find yourself getting excited at the idea of what you will read later, only to remember with a sigh that you finished the book. There aren’t nearly enough novels like that around.