Linda Howard was one of my top go-to romance authors for a long time, but somewhere along my reading journey she fell to the wayside. I was going through my Kindle library and came across Now You See Her which was originally published in 1998. I decided to do a re-read to see if it held up better than some of Howard’s other books like Mr. Perfect, which I used to love but have since come to realize is very problematic.
The answer is maybe? Now You See Her may be one of the least diverse books I’ve ever read that was set in New York City. There are only two people of color in the whole novel, and one of them is a hot dog vendor killed off in the first thirty pages. The other is the much younger Pacific Islander fuck boi of one of the antagonists. There are no LGBTQIA characters, but I’m considering that a plus over Mr. Perfect where the villain was a caricature of a transwoman, and her “condition” was blamed on her having been abused as a child. YMMV.
Sweeney is an artist and only answers to her last name. She is completely wrapped up in her art and avoids interacting with other people as much as humanly possible. Her ability to be nice in the face of bullshit is non-existent and she doesn’t want to spend her energy dealing with that mess when she can paint.
A year ago, Sweeney started seeing ghosts. Around the same time, the quality and substance of her paintings changed. She went from soft and impressionistic landscapes like Monet to much more vivid and manic works like Van Gogh. Last night she painted while sleepwalking for the first time and it was… unexpected. She painted a death scene featuring her favorite hot dog vendor and he’d obviously been murdered.
The plot moves rather quickly. The big mystery involves Sweeney’s love interest, Richard, his soon-to-be ex-wife, Candra, and a painting of shoes. SHOES. While I saw the denouement coming from a mile away, I still found this to be a fairly enjoyable way to spend a rainy morning. Definitely recommend for a beach read, or maybe an afternoon locked in your room with the kids on the otherside of the door. Some of it is even fairly amusing.
So, in short, if you are exploring classic Linda Howard, give Now You See Her a chance and avoid Mr. Perfect.