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Review: Death at First Sight – Lena Gregory

Review: Death at First Sight – Lena GregoryAuthor: Lena Gregory
Title: Death at First Sight
Series: Bay Island Psychic Mystery #1
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 304
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that something’s not right on Bay Island...

Since she left her psychiatric practice in New York City to open up a psychic shop in her hometown on Long Island, Cass Donovan has given her fair share of readings to conflicted customers. But what she sees in Ellie Hawkins’ future doesn’t bode well.

When Ellie’s mother Marge publicly confronts Cass about the reading, the embarrassment makes her want to curl up and die. But when she later stumbles across Marge’s body—and is arrested for her murder—Cass is suddenly the star of Bay Island’s rumor mill.

Out on bail, Cass is determined to prove her innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in her unfortunate vision. But even with the help of her friends Bee and Stephanie, Cass will have to channel some serious sleuthing instinct to find the real killer...
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0425282740
AmazonAdd to Goodreads

Welcome to my review of DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT by Lena Gregory!

I picked up Death at First Sight on a whim at the local library. I saw it on the New Releases shelf. The cover caught my attention. I’m a sucker for any cozies that have paranormal or supernatural elements to the stories. This book was disappointing in that regard because the main character, Cass, wouldn’t even admit to having any powers. For the most part, she was a fraud, using her understanding of psychology and people-reading skills to pretend to be psychic. There were a few strange things that happened, but nothing that screamed psychic abilities. Worse, they were never explained.

I was also disappointed because of the paint-by-numbers feel of the book. Gay sidekick? Check. Cranky old lady who gets murdered? Check. Wrongfully accused heroine? Check. Skeptical sheriff with a grudge? Check. Mysterious dark stranger? Check. And so on. It was very much like so many other books I have read in this genre. There wasn’t much to make it unique.

Another minor complaint I had was that Cass said she had been a psychiatrist, but she never went by doctor or mentioned her education. To become a psychiatrist, a person has to go to medical school. And, for someone who would have had to go to medical school, she was ridiculously squeamish. Also, her training should have kicked in, and I would expect a doctor would have thought about the woman’s injuries in medical terms at some point.

Despite what I have mentioned, I did enjoy reading Death at First Sight. I would read another book by Lena Gregory. Although the book wasn’t very original, the story moved along quickly. Also, the prose was well-written. I liked Cass for the most part, especially how dedicated she was to her friends. The supporting cast was good.

Warning: mini-rant coming up…

Even though I was disappointed that this was another book that cast a gay man as the skittish sidekick, I felt his role in the book was developed enough to support him being there. Without him there wouldn’t have been a fashion show that conflicted with the mean lady’s play.

Let me be clear: I don’t have anything against gay men; I just don’t like it when they are used as comedy. I didn’t find his flamboyance and exaggerated reactions funny.  That might be because most of the gay men I have met never acted like that, and I think it’s an overused stereotype that might insult some people. I’d love to see a gay man portrayed as tough for a change. Freaking out over every little thing isn’t a good quality for any character, regardless of sexual orientation.

That’s just my opinion.

Back to the review…

Anyway, Death at First Sight had a couple of other good things going for it. One was how Cass managed to save herself when she was in trouble. I was surprised, actually, because I didn’t figure she’d be up to it. Between her frequent stress headaches, lack of emotional fortitude, and poor decision making, I expected her to be the type to need rescuing. I was pleased when she was able to get out of situations all on her own. Maybe that’s why I ended up liking her.

The other thing I liked about the book was the mystery. I thought the author did a good job of creating red herrings. Even though it was pretty easy to guess who the killer was, I doubted my suspicions from time to time.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, with caveats. If you’re looking for a quick, easy read, with light romance thrown in with the mystery, I’d recommend giving it a try. If you’re looking for a book with a character who uses her psychic abilities to solve the case, then pass on this one. The psychic stuff really has no bearing on the resolution. It just gives the sheriff another reason to consider her a suspect.

My Shorter Review

Death at First Sight is a solid, fast-paced, cozy mystery. However, the characters are unoriginal, stereotypical, and not what the blurb for the book implies.

From the blurb: “But what she sees in Ellie Hawkins’ future doesn’t bode well.”

This is wrong. Cass never sees anything in Ellie’s future. Just a shadow in the corner of her eye, which could have been anything. The only reason Cass worries for Ellie is because this happened once before and the person ended up dead. Who’s to say that’s not coincidence, considering Cass doesn’t demonstrate any other psychic abilities?

Even the sentence, “Out on bail, Cass is determined to prove her innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in her unfortunate vision,” is misleading in terms of characters and plot. The first part is accurate, but the second part is wrong. Cass never has a vision. She just sees a shadow, which she even admits might not have anything to do with Ellie, because she sees it again later with another character.

Another problem is that the MC is supposedly a retired psychiatrist, yet she is unusually squeamish and unscientific for someone who would have had to have gone through medical school. Also, even retired, she’d still be a M.D., but there’s no mention of her being a doctor or having any skills related to medicine.

Although I enjoyed reading Death at First Sight, I was disappointed that the book wasn’t what it was sold to be. If you just want a cozy mystery to read, you should check this out, but if you are looking for a book in which the character’s psychic abilities help solve the case, you should pass this time.


Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

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