Friday, March 20, 2020

Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree by David Ahern – Book Review

Book: Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree
(Book 4 in the Madam Tulip series)
Author: David Ahern
Publication date: 14 March 2020
Number of pages: 340
Genre: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery 
Publisher: Malin Press

"In our futures, nothing is fixed. All your palm can tell us is what you bring to this life. So much of what may happen will be chance. Only you can decide how to meet whatever fortune brings. Often, the seeker finds not an answer but a question."

Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree is the fourth book in the Madam Tulip mystery series by author David Ahern. The book is fun, fast-paced, and can be easily read as a standalone, which means you don't have to read other books in the series.

It's also my second read for Ahern and the series, having read book 1, Madam Tulip in March – but oh wow – 2018!

Unlike the first book, Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree doesn't quite involve a mystery but rather a missing person mystery. Also, the real action with regards to the mystery begins towards half the book. That said, I still enjoyed the setting and narration of the first 50% of the book.

"Tara clutched the phone like it would burst into tears and how like a baby if she dared put it down."

Irish-American actress Derry O'Donnell lives in Dublin and moonlights as Madam Tulip, a fortune teller who performs at parties and events. In this book, Derry's friend Bella, who has risen to some fame, offers Derry and their former Navy SEAL-turned-actor Bruce, the opportunity to do their own play before an audience. This is in collaboration with bar-owner Pat Kelly, who later turns out to be much more than just a bar-owner. Kelly agrees to Bella's proposal on condition that Derry do a Madam Tulip act at a popular singer's birthday party.

As Derry begins to meet and mingle with the music band's members and their entourage, she discovers that their main singer believed strongly in the words of a Shaman, a woman named Kira, while others feel distrustful of Kira. There is an overall sense of animosity towards Kira, who we never see in the book but get various viewpoints of from the different characters.

"So who hates Kira? Seems to me, everybody does."

One of the things I enjoy is Ahern's style. Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree is narrated in the third person but mainly from protagonist Derry O' Donnell's perspective. And Derry is super funny.

"Tara wore a dark pants suit of the kind worn by market researchers who stop you in the mall insisting you try a new kind of yoghurt guaranteed to make you lose weight and improve your dancing."

It's worth mentioning is the daughter of a seventh son so she may have a possible ability to see the future or at least read the tarot cards, which she does as Madam Tulip. So there's always this tiny paranormal aspect and feel to the Madam Tulip books.

I love how David Ahern's writing is so visual, in terms of imagery and similes. Not only visual, you can hear the characters, and feel all your senses working as you read.

"The silence was the silence of a crowd in the moments before a tennis player takes a match-winning serve, like a hundred people holding their breath."

Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree wasn't what I expected but it was an enjoyable read. Even when the plot itself isn't moving forward, there is lots of action taking place.

In addition to the mystery and Madam Tulip's role, we have Derry's father Jacko (which not surprisingly rhymes with wacko) and the constant family drama, the friendship between Derry and Bruce, and in this book the charismatic sax player Scandinavian Nils, whom Derry likes and the reader can't help but equally like. J

I must also note that the final scenes in Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree where everything was happening in the dark, like in movies where you're struggling to see what the actors are doing, was a bit vague for me. I had difficulty imagining it; and not because it was dark but because a lot was happening and it just wasn't clear. Still I enjoyed the book.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Note: I received a free advanced reader's copy (ARC) of Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree from its author David Ahern in exchange for an honest review. This did not in any way affect my review.

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