Out-of-work actress Derry O'Donnell is young, talented, a teeny bit psychic ... and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madam Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig - a celebrity charity weekend in a castle - a famous rap artist will die.
As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life. Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry's attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.
Madame Tulip is the first in a series of Tulip adventures in which Derry O'Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.
Although I read a lot of crime fiction and thrillers it's been a while since I've read a cosy mystery. However, having enjoyed the genre in the past I was delighted when David Ahern contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reading Madam Tulip.
As the first book in what will be a series of Madam Tulip books (there is already a second book, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, with a third book on the way) the story builds slowly as first we are introduced to the characters and their relationships to one another, setting the scene for the crime that Derry inadvertently becomes involved in. As the lead character it is vital that Derry O'Donnell has enough depth to be an engaging protagonist who can carry a series. Thankfully she is exactly that. She is intelligent, resourceful and self deprecating, and by cleverly giving her an alter ego (the eponymous Madam Tulip) the author has provided her not only with a reason for becoming involved with a situation where a crime occurs but also with an alternative method for interacting with the other characters. The use of her second sight makes for an interesting twist and I was pleased to note, not overdone. It provides her - and us - with clues but they are never straightforward and still require solving using the more traditional cosy mystery methods of solving crimes - snooping and luck. The secondary characters are also well written, I particularly enjoyed the relationship Derry has with her parents - and they have with each other; it's probably best described as somewhat dysfunctional yet written with a light touch that makes any disagreements more comedic than bitter. The crime that kick starts Derry's amateur sleuthing isn't particularly unusual, a rap singer dies at the first charity fundraiser Madam Tulip has been engaged to attend. After being privy to certain conversations Derry quickly realises his death isn't an accident. Nevertheless it builds into a well constructed mystery with some real tension alongside the humour.
I really enjoyed Madam Tulip, it was a pleasure to remind myself of how much fun lighter crime fiction can be. I'm looking forward to finding out what mystery she finds herself involved with next!
Many thanks to the author for my copy of Madam Tulip, received in return for my honest review.
Madam Tulip is published by Malin Press and can be purchased here.