Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT MADAM TULIP & the KNAVE OF HEARTS by @daveahernwriter

Today’s Team Review is from Barb, she blogs here http://barbtaub.com/

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Barb has been reading Madam Tulip and the Knave Of Hearts by David Ahern

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My Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts by David Ahern

I fell in love with Derry, the hapless heroine of David Ahern’s cozy mystery series, in Madam Tulip, the first book of this terrific series, as she supplemented the vicissitudes of an acting career by capitalizing on her inherited psychic gifts. As the glamorous and mysterious Madam* Tulip, world-famous psychic and fortune-teller, Derry reluctantly finds herself telling fortunes for well-heeled clients. (*That’s Madam without an “e”, because she’s not married to Monsieur Tulip.) 

 

Just as her acting career seems poised to take off, disaster strikes their venerable old theater, and Derry is forced to take a job for her wealthy American mother Vanessa—art gallery owner, agent, and force of nature. At the same time, Derry attempts to dodge the more extreme scheming of her Irish father Jacko—famous artist, compulsive gambler, and womanizer. At times Derry wonders if she’s the only one who remembers that her parents are divorced, as she’s caught in the middle of their ongoing battles/attraction.

But in the midst of these scenes from her regular life, Derry is approached by a friend from Book 1 with a command performance request for Madam Tulip from a wealthy Countess. Reluctantly, Derry agrees and along with her conscripted sidekick Bruce, is soon ensconced in the aristocratic estate and lives of a compulsive gambler Earl and his family.

As a reader, that was about the time that I started to add up the ways that author David Ahern was systematically both using and subverting the standard Cozy Mystery tropes.

The sweet old lady amateur detective is a gray wig and a costumed role for a young woman who prefers the cash to solving the crime. “Derry and Bruce were different people in as many ways as you could imagine. But they were both actors. To be insulted by offers of money was, therefore, an existential impossibility.”

Her gay best friend is not only a handsome fellow actor but he’s also a competent ex-Navy Seal and computer expert who—in contrast to Cozy genre norms—doesn’t cook, own a small dog, or give fashion advice. (Although he is somewhat-unfortunately named Bruce, so there’s that…)

Neither the police nor local medical providers are the least helpful.

The murdered body itself might be offstage, but bits of it have taken to turning up in particularly graphic ways.  Despite body bits, liberal clues, and red herrings that point to the bad guys and accomplice early on, the actual motivating factor isn’t revealed until the end, when it almost doesn’t matter.

In keeping with the Cozy ethics, there is no swearing, unless “gobshite” counts. But there are no cats, no knitting, and not much use for cupcakes either. “The neighbours of the Palace Theatre were mostly bars catering to stag parties—hordes of drunken revellers whose uses for a cupcake could prove unorthodox.” 

Instead of a cozy little village, the action moves to an aristocratic estate that can only be called ‘familiar’ by Downton Abby fans. There are several sightings of “HER”, and in addition to the Queen, members of the Royal family play roles. One thing that makes American-raised Derry (and Americans like me) wonder is the whole concept of the Queen and British royalty. Like Derry, we can’t quite figure it out.

‘I’ve never understood why the Irish are so keen on the British Royal Family,’ observed Derry to Jacko in a whisper. ‘You know—all that bad history. You’d think they’d have a grudge.’

‘Sure what has history to do with it, at all?’ replied Jacko. ‘Isn’t it a grand show, with all the parades and marriages and scandals galore? All paid for by the British taxpayer, God bless them. We Irish say think you very much’ do carry on.’

The book’s pacing works well, with the scene set at the aristocratic estate, eccentric characters such as the ex-showgirl Countess, and occasional arrival of random body parts. My only complaints with the book start when the cozy mystery escalates into a thriller mode that’s less convincing, with James Bond style over-the-top villains and complex rigged death scenes that frankly would have been much more easily arranged with a strategic bullet or two and some judicious arson. Indeed, Derry willingly puts herself at risk because she feels guilty over something she had no control over or responsibility for. While this enables the thriller-style finale, I think the judges would agree that it doesn’t really make sense. Sure, if Derry had been English, she would have apologized for everything from the weather to her own incompetence in briskly ferreting out the murderer. But Derry is Irish-American. And the Irish aren’t about feel guilty about bad things happening to the English, while the Americans aren’t going to apoligize for anything except possibly Donald Trump.

And finally, there is a ‘you’ve probably wondered why I’ve called you all here’ scene that’s almost an afterthought, and a bit of cozy-mystery cheating as the final motivating clue isn’t revealed until after all the action.

But you know what? These complaints are absolutely minor next to the character building, scene setting, and snarky conversation. I love this series, highly recommend it, and suggest that readers treat themselves to both books in order. I would give Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts an equally-enthusiastic four stars. As I said with the first book, if you’re up for a funny, well-written genre mashup with memorable characters and a great sense of voice and style, I think you’ll love this series.

And of course, I can’t wait for Madam Tulip’s next appearance.

I reviewed Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts for Rosie’s Book Review Team

***I received this book from the publisher or author to facilitate an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

 

about the author David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate and taught in major Universities but could never explain to his granny why he didnít own a stethoscope. Finding the challenge of pretending to know things exhausting, David Ahern shaved off his beard and absconded once more, this time to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series. He won numerous awards, but found nobody was much impressed. For want of a better plan, David Ahern took to writing fiction. Madame Tulip isn't his first novel, but writing it was the most fun he's ever had with a computer. He is now writing the third in the series and enjoys pretending that this activity is actual work. David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud. To find out more about Madam Tulip and David Ahern, visit www.davidahern.info

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate and taught in major Universities but could never explain to his granny why he didnít own a stethoscope.
Finding the challenge of pretending to know things exhausting, David Ahern shaved off his beard and absconded once more, this time to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series. He won numerous awards, but found nobody was much impressed.
For want of a better plan, David Ahern took to writing fiction. Madame Tulip isn’t his first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’s ever had with a computer. He is now writing the third in the series and enjoys pretending that this activity is actual work.
David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

Twitter @daveahernwriter

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT MADAM TULIP & The Knave of Hearts by @DaveAhernWriter

Today’s Team Review is from Jessie she blogs at http://behindthewillows.com

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts by David Ahern

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I’m so grateful that I was once reeled in by a cute frog on the cover of a book. That book, Madam Tulip, introduced me to Derry O’Donnell and her accompanying, charmingly over the top, literary comrades.

David Ahern’s newest book cover isn’t as cute…… but that’s alright because I loved it even more!

Would I recommend it? Yes! This is the new series I’m recommending to anyone who loves a humorous mystery! It made me giggle (so many times) and almost gag (there’s an eyeball…) and had me on the edge of my seat (Well, that’s just a lie on my part. I was reading in bed. But it did have me refusing to put the book down and go to bed at a reasonable time) all at once. A perfect fun, quick read!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Book Description

Madam Tulip! Actress, fortune-teller, psychic, sleuth!
When out-of-work actress Derry O’Donnell moonlights as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip in an English Stately home, she’s trying to make some cash. Instead, she is drawn into an alien world of wealth, titled privilege and family secrets. 
A countess once a chorus girl, a gambling earl and his daughters, a cultured and handsome art expert—all caught in a terrifying web of ghastly threats, murder and abduction. As an aristocratic engagement party turns into a nightmare, Derry and her friend Bruce face the prospect of a gruesome and infamous death. 
Madame Tulip and the Knave of Hearts is the second in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.
 

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT MADAM TULIP by @DaveAhernWriter “constant humour”

Today’s Team Review is from Jessie, she blogs here http://behindthewillows.com

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Jessie has been reading Madam Tulip by David Ahern

There is a frog on the cover of this book and it’s pretty. And so I decided that I needed to read this book. (I’m pretty sure that’s what you call successful cover art!)

Would I recommend it? Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but you sure can choose one. Frog loving isn’t even required to enjoy this book! I mean, you should love frogs anyway but amphibian love is unnecessary to appreciate a book with a main character who, rather accidentally, gets caught up in the world of celebrities when she decides to become a fortune teller. Unfortunately, as she soon finds out, there are some seriously shady sides to a few of those celebrities.  The action is fast, the humor is constant and frogs are discussed. But it wasn’t the frogs that have me recommending this book, it’s the just slightly over the top characters and the just a little bit crazy plot.  Something about the tiny bit of excess in both turns this from just another female lead action book to a book that you really need to bring along next time you hit the beach!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT MADAM TULIP by @DaveAhernWriter #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

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Cathy has been reading Madam Tulip by David Ahern

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Derry O’Donnell, sometime actress, latterly of Trinity College, Dublin, from where she graduated summa cum laude in Theatre Arts, has been broke and, more often than not, unemployed for the last five years. A job offer from her mother, as a PR for her art gallery, and an ultimatum regarding her rent, prompts Derry to seriously consider her best friend, Bella’s idea of using her fortune-telling talents, she’s the only daughter of the seventh son of a seventh son, to top up her non-existent bank balance. And so Madam Tulip is born.

Attending the races with her father, Jacko, and persuaded to use her talents to pick a winner, Derry spots well known supermodel, Marlene O’Mara, with her obviously rich husband, Peter Doyle. Jacko can’t help himself and brags about Derry’s abilities. One thing leads to another and Derry is invited to the Doyles’ charity event as Madam Tulip, Celebrity Psychic, complete with makeover and her assistant, Bella.

All is going well at the event, Madam Tulip is a success, and then one of the celebrities is found, on the brink of death, by Bella who then becomes a suspect and is taken into custody. As events escalate, Derry and her friends find themselves in all kinds of trouble, involving thugs and drugs. Derry needs all her acting skills to try and keep herself, and everyone else, safe.

I enjoyed this book very much, right from the start. The humorously engaging writing, the really well-rounded, memorable, and sometimes exuberant, characters. Not to mention great dialogue. Derry is down to earth and unpretentious, unlike her flamboyant father and very successful mother. Bruce is a great character too, a gay, ex navy SEAL, who is as nervous as a kitten when it comes to auditions, but he shows what he’s made of when it counts and does all he can to help Derry.

The characters’ backgrounds are integrated well into the story, giving a rounded and believable, even if slightly over the top, portrayal. The plot, although a little convenient at times is nevertheless a lot of fun, skilfully done and still holds surprises, with action, suspense and humour aplenty. I look forward to future adventures with Derry and co.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT MADAM TULIP by @DaveAhernWriter cosy #Mystery

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

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Liz has been reading Madam Tulip by David Ahern

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Madam Tulip by David Ahern

 

Derry O’Donnell is a fully qualified out of work actress who lives in Dublin. Her father, Jacko, is a charming artist, fond of gambling, while her mother, Vanessa, is an assertive, successful Gallery owner in New York.

 

Derry’s friend, Bella suggests that Derry uses her psychic talents, as the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son, to create the persona of a mystic called Madam Tulip. After meeting a friend of Jacko at a race course, Derry is persuaded by supermodel Marlene O’Mara to give Madam Tulip her first performance, giving consultations and predictions to clients at a Charity Bash taking place in a castle, the following weekend. Among the guests are Mojo, a rapper from London and his partner Sonya Dee, an American R n B singer.

 

Derry finds Bruce, an old friend and also a “resting” actor, working at the castle. In addition, he is an ex US navy SEAL with special skills which she will soon need to rely on. Mojo is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Bella is arrested. When it looks as though Derry might also be framed for murder, she decides to find the real culprit, but she is hindered by the lack of co-operation of her old flame, Fitz, an aristocratic policeman from London, who is working incognito.

 

Derry is a brave, likeable heroine, who inspires loyalty from her friends. She relishes danger, although unsure of the advantage of her ability to sense people’s secrets and predict consequences. The second half of the novel is full of drama and adventure. It is clear that Derry or Madam Tulip could continue with other thrilling investigations since you can trust her and enjoy her sardonic humour.

 

This story fits into the cosy mystery genre but there is also a touch of Irish feyness which reminds me of the books of David’s namesake, Cecelia Ahern. A most enjoyable read.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com