Series: Madame Karitska #1
Published by Fawcett on May 28, 2014 (first published 1975)
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Paranormal mystery
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Also by this author: The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax
As a psychic to the public, Madame Karitska has seen a lot. But when a chance encounter with Detective-Lieutenant Pruden of the Police Department catapults her into the unforseen, she must use all of her resources to keep danger—and death—at bay....
It’s hard to know how to classify Gilman’s The Clairvoyant Countess. It’s not a typical mystery novel, though there are several mysteries within it. It is episodic, but more cohesive than a collection of short stories within a frame. But there’s something captivating about it, in spite of or perhaps because of its genre-defying qualities.
The character of Madame Karitska, the titular clairvoyant countess, is what holds the book together. A past rich in experiences (though not always in funds) and a very open mind have left her with a wisdom and an ability to accept and enjoy life as it comes that are rare in someone in their seventies, let alone a widow in her late forties. And Madame Karitska’s very real psychic abilities—she is clairvoyant, and works best through psychometry—have given her insight, compassion, and a willingness to look beyond outward appearances, beyond the obvious. She is perceptive, generous and optimistic: a most attractive personality.
As the novel progresses, Madame Karitska collects an unusual assortment of friends and colleagues: a skeptical policeman (hence some of the mysteries), a middle-aged businessman, a schoolboy, and a rising music star. Not all the puzzles Madam Karitska encounters end on a positive note for all concerned, but all are resolved in one way or another. The puzzles/mysteries are interesting, the characters more so, though we don’t get to know any of them intimately, including Madame Karitska.
Beyond the attributes I’ve described here, there’s an indefinable quality about the book that I find very appealing…which is why I’ve returned to it four or five times in the three decades since I first read it, each time with the feeling that I’m encountering an old friend I haven’t seen in years.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Winter 2018-2019