on May 5, 2015 :
Review of Dark Visions
Amateur sleuths on the job
Dark Visions is a one-sitting read. The overlapping threads of mystery within a family and a neighbourhood draw the reader in.
The Pilleys are a regular, affectionate and newly-retired couple.
Meg has her children, her friends and a good relationship with her sister-in-law. She plays with the Tarot and gives ‘for fun’ readings over coffee and cake, and enjoys playing bowls.
Retirement isn’t suiting Clyde. He has changed from easy-going to negative - is bored and a little bit testy, starts eating too heartily and resists joining Meg at the Bowls Club even though police mate Ross Delaney is a member - bowls is for old people. And he really dislikes his sister-in-law Enid, because in looking to better themselves Clyde feels she puts undue strain on his brother Mick.
It takes a while before Clyde succumbs to Meg’s encouragement to get out and about, but it works. He strikes up a friendship with a fine younger man who seems to epitomise strong family and ethical values; and as Clyde gets around the neighbourhood his health improves.
Meantime Meg is uneasy that her developing psychic skills could be taking her out of her depth. But continuing encounters seem to confirm the accuracy of what she sees and feels, even if some of the interpretations are in hindsight. Because Clyde is openly cynical and critical of Meg’s flirtation with the occult, she tends to downplay what is happening at first. Quietly though, Clyde is not so sure after a few creepy events and some dark situations turn out as Meg predicted.
Chapter by chapter, readers become aware of a menacing presence that seems to be pulling many strings under the radar.
When Clyde crosses paths with their new and mysterious neighbours he becomes suspicious because of their rudeness and undue efforts to maintain privacy. Ross Delaney tells him in confidence that the men are under surveillance and warns him to keep clear.
From there, life becomes complicated for the Pilleys - each having their own worrying experiences and only sharing some of them.
But Clyde turns amateur sleuth and discovers a number of puzzling connections in the neighbourhood. He worries about his brother’s activities, especially when he and Enid set off on an expensive overseas jaunt. Is a criminal manipulating them?
Meg has concerns about the tarot readings for some of her neighbours, but has to make a dash for the Gold Coast when her daughter’s relationship is in strife. After seeing one of Mick’s acquaintances there, and suspecting criminal connections, Meg wants the comfort of familiar surroundings and to seek more information from her unseen connection. This need increases when she learns that Clyde has been violently attacked and landed at the hospital emergency department. It is high priority to know more - from the spirit world or Clyde - it doesn’t matter.
After this Meg and Clyde share information and experiences, determined to help family and neighbours. But everything becomes complicated as they don’t know who they can trust - Clyde even has minor reservations about Ross Delaney who has personal problems and is about to retire.
A photo mysteriously falls from a wall, there are premonitions of death, strange objects in the garage next door, a woman’s story of abuse, snakes hidden in a glass container, Meg’s nightmare nap of being trapped. Does it all fit together - and if so, how?
Against time, and sometimes in danger, the two civilian detectives solve it all in cahoots with Ross Delaney. Justice appears to be done.
And Clyde takes on the bowling after all. Safer?
An enjoyable set of puzzles for anyone who enjoys pulling the clues together.
I suspect more mysteries will come the Pilley’s way.
(reviewed 74 days after purchase)
Sharon L Norris
on Oct. 25, 2014 :
‘Dark Visions’ by Janice Gallen is as deep and dark as the title suggests. The novel explores the dark sides of a number of individuals who are interconnected in different ways – blood, marriage, friendship, work, business, geography, the past, and or events. Every character seems to have their own deep, dark secret which comes to light through the course of the story.
Middle-aged married couple Meg and Clyde Pilley are in a bit of a rut. Retired Clyde is a permanent grump who will do anything to resist his long-suffering wife’s attempts to drag him out to lawn bowls. He can’t stand - nor does he understand - Meg’s psychic abilities, which she explores through tarot card readings for family and friends.
When Meg forsees problems in a client’s marriage, she encourages Clyde to follow the husband to find out what might be afoot. What Clyde witnesses outside a hotel across town and Meg’s horrific vision of a violent death drags the amateur sleuths into an increasingly dark web of intrigue and innuendo with a number of other people:
Clyde’s cash-strapped beancounter brother, Mick, and his doting but dotty wife, Enid.
Dashing rich businessman Jake Reynolds and his virile young wife, Carla.
Secretive young man Doug Sonderheim and his equally secretive wife, Sondra.
The strange new neighbours who come and go at all hours and keep snakes in their shed.
Hard working police detectives Ross Delaney and Ahmed Hoolihan.
Meg’s psychic ability heightens as she and Clyde find themselves in mortal danger as they become embroiled in a murder. Non-believer Clyde has a change of heart as he realises that his wife’s gift is the most powerful weapon they can wield to protect themselves in the fight to survive.
‘Dark Visions’ promises much as a mystery – and certainly delivers. The reader is lulled into a false sense of security, thinking they know who is doing what and why, until Janice Gallen delivers the twists and turns that take the reader right back to the drawing board. An excellent read.
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)