The Skinny on the Jinni by Gloria Lesher

The Skinny on the Jinni: A Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Paranormal Case Files Book 1) by Gloria Lesher

Publisher: Heather Gardens Press

Publication date: March 29, 2021

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's description:

Hang out in a lamp? Not this jinni.

Retired professor Blythe Golightly likes to investigate all things spooky. People come to her for help ridding themselves of ghosts, demons, and poltergeists—what Blythe’s long-gone, moonshiner granddaddy, back home in North Carolina, called “haints.”

When Blythe’s friend Poppy says her teenage granddaughter, Najia, is haunted by a jinni, Blythe jumps at the chance to help. The jinni is controlled by the girl’s Saudi father—a billionaire sheikh who kidnapped Najia to Saudi Arabia after his divorce from Poppy’s daughter, Dakota, a Vail Ski Resort heiress.

The sheikh has cut teenage Najia off from any contact with her American family. In a sting operation, Blythe helps Judd, a child recovery contractor, bring Najia home to Colorado.

Then the sheikh is murdered in Dakota’s Vail mansion—while Judd is there. The police suspect Dakota and Judd of conspiring to kill the sheikh for $11.5 million dollars worth of life insurance. When Najia begs Blythe to help prove her mother innocent and banish the jinni, Blythe finds herself in over her head!

It’s MURDER, SHE WROTE meets THE X-FILES in this charming cozy mystery, which may make you smile, shed a tear, and ponder the unexplainable. The novel pays tribute to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic tale, “Rappaccini’s Daughter.”

My review:

I received a free copy of the ebook from BookSirens in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Blythe Golightly is a retired professor researching the paranormal. It used to be purely academic research until a tragic accident left her with an ability to connect with the paranormal personally. Now, while one of her best friends lays dying, Blythe finds herself in the middle of a non-custodial parent kidnapping, international intrigue, and aiding a young woman possessed with a jinni. There was a lot going on in this cozy. I loved the older, more self-assured Blythe as the main protagonist in a book that was about 50/50 on characters you will love and characters you will not. Overall, though, I felt like it suffered a lot of first-in-a-series issues, such as trying to hurry through world-building, not fully developing characters, and some timeline errors. For example, a character is said to leave the room to talk to the police, but then is still in the room talking to Blythe, then returns from talking to the police! That was definitely missed in editing. I stopped and reread it several times trying to figure out what was going on in the scene.

The storytelling and writing were clumsy at times as well. A romantic relationship materializes mostly out of thin air toward the end of the book and some of the descriptions were odd, such as repeatedly referring to a character’s ethnicity long past when the reader should have internalized who that character was and odd turns of phrase such as “beaming at me with indifference”.

That being said, I’ve seen many a cozy series grow and develop over the course of several books. The characters, especially Blythe, Soledad, and Najia, are all likable enough and intriguing enough that I want to know what happens next for them so I will read the second book, In a Black Monk Funk. I like to give series at least two books before abandoning or committing to them. At this time, there are only two books published in the series.

If you love an older protagonist and a new paranormal entity - a JINNI - then I think you will enjoy this cozy. I have hopes for the series since I think there is a lot of potential for future stories.

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