Title: The Other Side of Midnight
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: 2015
The year is 1925 and the place is London. As families deal with soldiers who do not make it home after the war, many seek out mediums to help them contact the dead. Gloria Sutter is almost as well-known for her ability to make contact with the dead as she is for her wild and excessive lifestyle. When she is murdered at a séance, her estranged brother finds a final message from Gloria advising him to seek out her former friend, Ellie Winter. Ellie too is a medium, but she uses her talents to find lost items, not make contact with the dead.
George Sutter uses his influence to convince Ellie to aid in the investigation, and she reluctantly is reconnected with James Hawley, a war veteran and researcher dedicated to proving in the invalidity of psychics. It becomes very apparent that no one is what they seem to be. What organization does George Sutter work for and how is he able to obtain classified police information? Why did Gloria work with Ramona, a fake drug-addicted charlatan of a psychic? How do Gloria’s three brothers who died in the war figure in to the choice that Gloria made to perform the unusual séance that was the site of her demise?
St. James weaves an intricate plot that creates a lot of suspense and tension. There is a feeling that answers must be found out quickly or more tragedy will strike.
Most of the descriptions of the book use the word “atmospheric” and that is a perfect word choice. The author does a great job at creating a sense of mystery and darkness as England recovers from World War I; women are gaining independence, hair lengths are getting shorter, and hemlines are going higher.
I really enjoyed the character development and how the author wove in history, without the book being a serious historical novel. There is a lot of discussion about psychics and their growth in popularity following the first World War; the mysticism adds to the ambiance of the story without distracting from the plot. Although I was able to figure out the “who dun it” fairly easily, it was much more interesting to learn the how and why.
I have seen books by Simone St. James before, especially The Haunting of Maddy Clare, and for some reason the plot line didn’t interest me. I am going to revisit some of the author’s other works and give them a try.
Who might like this book:
Not really a fluff read, as the mysticism and history are woven so deeply into the plot, but rather a very enjoyable book. If you have read The Haunting of Maddy Clare, you will really like this one. The author has gotten even better with her plot structure and description. Paranormal mysteries can sometimes be overdone and draw attention away from the plot and characters; I feel that this novel achieves a good balance.