Today’s team review is from Barb. She blogs here https://barbtaub.com/
Barb has been reading Madam Tulip And The Rainbow’s End by David Ahern.
The cast of the Madam Tulip series includes some of my absolute favorite book friends, starting with the young actress, Derry O’Donnell—permanently broke and scratching for the next job in the Dublin theater scene, consistently dating the wrong flavor-of-the-week, while waiting for The Big Break—and her alter ego Madam Tulip*, celebrity psychic and fortune-teller. (*That’s Madam without an “e”, because she’s not married to Monsieur Tulip.)
As always, Derry’s supporting cast includes her parents, long-divorced but tied by bonds far deeper than mere matrimony—Vanessa is agent to internationally-famed painter Jacko, and their epic battles and schemes constantly threaten Derry’s finances and, with alarming frequency, her life.
In fact, experts have established that the murder of artists by their agents and vice versa exceeds even the shocking homicide rate between couples in television dance competitions, although well below that between partners in bridge.
This episode opens with Derry being roused from a well-earned rest in a hotel in the North West coast of Ireland where she and her fellow actors had celebrated their brilliant performance the night before. There is a mysterious text from her friend Bella, the show’s co-producer. Then Derry’s friend Bruce (gay ex-Navy Seal, actor, computer expert, and total eye-candy) breaks the bad news. The main producer has disappeared with the box office takings which were supposed to have been disbursed that day. The rest of the troop discretely decamps in the night as well, leaving Derry and Bruce with massive hotel bills they couldn’t hope to pay. Derry is considering a quick exit via fire-escape, but her best friend Bruce—not only an officer and a gentleman, but also an American and thus subject to unfortunate fits of integrity—insists on facing the music. Derry realizes that can mean only one thing: Madam Tulip must come out of retirement.
With a back-story involving recovery of Jacko’s early (and thus valuable) paintings, Derry agrees to allow Madam Tulip to tell fortunes for a local fundraiser, partly to repay the hotel owner, and partly to get her parents off her case.
Madam Tulip, a character created by Derry with the help of her theatrical friends, was a fortune-teller of elegant dress and mature years. She had an uncanny ability, whether with Tarot, cards or crystal, to help her clients answer those questions asked by people of all ages, genders and orientations since the beginning of human history. ‘Does he or she love me?’ ‘Will I be happy?’ ‘Will I be rich?’ What’s more, Madam Tulip was no kind of fraud. As the daughter of the seventh son of a seventh son, Derry O’Donnell had inherited modest abilities some would call psychic, although she had once described her gift as being about as useful as a lipstick in the shower.
But now that Derry has grudgingly accepted the accuracy of Madam Tulip’s fortune-telling, she begins to see the darker side of the people she meets, including a recently bereaved family who own several of the paintings her parents want to recover, and a devastated sister seeking answers in her brother’s death.
Madam Tulip’s adventures are full of humorous takes on the people Derry and Bruce meet, and The Rainbow’s End is no exception. But Derry’s growing belief in her alter-ego Madam Tulip’s predictions make her suspect almost everyone of sinister motives, a darker outlook that worries the naturally-optimistic Derry. “She wondered what was wrong with her. Had she always been so mistrustful of everyone? Of herself? Her innocence seemed to have ebbed away unnoticed while she had been doing other things.”
Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End is faithful to the tropes of the (slightly paranormal) cozy thriller. Like trope-definer Nancy Drew, Derry is captured, tied up, and rescued. But this adventure goes darker, their adversaries more chillingly amoral, Derry’s dark moment truly terrifying. Interestingly, Madam Tulip takes on a more three-dimensional reality even as the hunt intensifies for the missing code to accessing the physical unreality of a bitcoin fortune. When Derry dons her disguise, it’s Madam Tulip who speaks her own truths. “More than once she felt the shiver of recognition as that vista shyly revealed itself. And in those moments, Tulip felt the peace of knowing that the future could be befriended but never tamed.”
As I’ve said about earlier books in this wonderful series, for anyone who enjoys plenty of wisecracking banter, a cast of offbeat characters willing to risk their lives for each other, and a rollercoaster thriller plot, I really can’t recommend this series enough.
On the private island of a wealthy banker, a young and talented stonemason falls from a cliff. A tragic accident? Or murder?
The dead man’s sister is obsessed with justice and will stop at nothing.
A glamorous French widow and her heart-throb son are certain they have been cheated of their legacy.
A daughter is bequeathed an island mansion beyond her means.
An enigmatic letter hints at a hidden fortune.
After the collapse of her theatrical tour, actress Derry O’Donnell must work to pay her way in a West of Ireland village. As Madam Tulip, she tells fortunes for a local charity only to be drawn into a maze of mystery and intrigue.
Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End is the fifth in the Madam Tulip series of mystery-adventures, in which out-of-luck actress Derry O’Donnell finds the promise at the End of the Rainbow may not be what it seems.