Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Fiction Review: The Sense of Death

Happy Halloween Week! I have devoted the past two months to darker, creepy reading for the #RIPXV Challenge, but last week, I read a book that was absolutely perfect for the season and wonderfully written, too. The Sense of Death by Matty Dalrymple was written by a local author (Philadelphia area) whom I met last year when she did a book signing at our local indie bookstore. I'm so glad I bought a copy of this book, her first in a series of ghosty mysteries, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ann Kinnear, star of this series, has been able to sense spirits ever since she was a little girl. She doesn't claim to be a psychic and can't communicate with spirits, but she can sense colors, shapes, sounds, and sometimes emotions. Ever since she helped police find a local missing girl when she was a teen, her brother has acted as her manager, booking her jobs where someone needs her talents. Sometimes she helps law enforcement, sometimes she comes to the homes of people who want to know if their loved ones are still around or if the ghost in their house is malevolent, and sometimes she helps potential buyers scout whether a house is haunted. That's the case with her latest client, who actually wants to buy a haunted house but one with a spirit with benevolent tendencies. When Ann arrives at their latest selection, a fancy townhouse in the wealthy Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia, she refuses to even enter the house because she can sense such anger and hostility from a spirit just from the open doorway. Word of the spirit encounter gets back to Detective Joe Booth, who is investigating the disappearance of the young wife and mother in that very house. He suspects the husband of foul play but has no evidence yet. He doesn't believe in spirits or ghosts, but he brings Ann into the case just to see what happens. As the web of crime, angry spirits, and dangerous criminals tightens, Ann may not even be safe in her remote haven of a home in the Adirondacks.

I loved this novel! Suspense and mystery with a side of the supernatural? Sign me up! But it was also very well-written, with well-developed characters and an intricately plotted mystery yielding taut tension. In addition, the settings of the book in the Philadelphia area and the Adirondacks (both familiar places to me) were an integral part of the story that made it a very immersive narrative. This is not a "whodunit," since the reader knows from the beginning who the bad guy is, but the suspense lies in following the detective's efforts to figure it out before the villain can come after Ann. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read and can't wait to read more of the series--anytime of year!

217 pages, William Kingsfield Publishers

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here (it's from a passage where Ann and another "spirit sensor" describe what they observe) and/or download it from Audible at the link.


You can purchase The Sense of Death from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here: 

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You can also buy through indie bookstores using Bookshop.

Or you can order The Sense of Death from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. This sounds like a good book to read this week as we gear up for a strange Halloween.

    1. Yes! It was a great October read :)

  2. Sounds perfect for the RIP Challenge Sue.

    1. Yes, perfect spooky October fun!