It is raining. Darkly clad people under umbrellas at the funeral of Dominic Raines. One woman stands out, beautiful and dark. Our protagonist is immediately taken with her as she explains how her grandmother had a fling with the deceased – the godfather to our protagonist. This is the scene where Nicholas Lash meets Josephine. We meet these people just this day because this is the day Nicholas Lash’s life changes; people try to kill him at his Godfather’s house and Josephine appears to save him – from where we do not know – and they escape together. An escape that ends in a car crash and Josephine nowhere to be found.
Next time we see Josephine far in the past with a young Dominic Raines, she looks exactly the same, and the mystery continues swiveling in and out of timelines.
It does not take a detective to see: there is a supernatural element to Josephine. However the books is not a horror story. Nor is it a crime novel. Rather it is an exploration of the literary trope of the femme fatale. We do not know who Josephine is – every time we learn something about her we learn it through the story of men; it is men she loves, men she kills, men that die for her, and it is men that made her what she is.
The book is darkly drawn which sometime resulting in difficulty in distinguishing characters, however it contributes to the 1940’s detective feel. It is a book of immersion and as I review it is sometimes difficult to remember the plot. The feeling of dread, of horror just beneath the surface is a pervasive and engaging experience – for someone who does not enjoy detective stories the hint of fantasy and horror kept me engaged and guessing.
I review these together because the review would look similar for both books, however there is more fantasy in the second book, which may cause some readers to bow out…and others to finally get it.