Saturday, August 29, 2015

Penelope Tredwell Mystery No. 2 - Shadows of the Silver Screen

Christopher Edge does it again!  I picked up the first and second books in this series from Amazon some time ago, as the concept seemed rather interesting - a young girl who inherits her father's magazine, the Penny Dreadful, and turns it into a raging success by penning horrific tales of terror under the pen name, Montgomery Flinch. In the first novel,Twelve Minutes to Midnight, Penelope has hired an actor to fill the role of "Montgomery Flinch" at a public appearance.  At the same time, however, she becomes involved in a mystery surrounding a psychiatric hospital where, at exactly 12 minutes to midnight every night, the patients all seem to speak nonsense, but which is in actuality visions of future events - events that someone is taking great pains to learn in an effort to take hold of the future!  It was a really good read, so I was happy to finally get a chance to read the second book.

Edge keeps the suspense going and increases the supernatural element in this mystery.  When a filmmaker comes to the office of the Penny Dreadful wanting to make a movie of one of Montgomery Flinch's tales, Penelope reluctantly gives in.  What she does not realize, though, is that the filmmaker has a very unique camera - one that not only captures visual and sound (these stories are set in the early part of the 20th century, so sound in movies was not yet invented), but also manages to break through into the spirit world and capture the spirits of those who have moved on.  In this case, one spirit in particular - a young girl that the filmmaker was in love with as a boy.  He is intent on bringing her back, but Penelope soon finds that there is a high price to return a spirit into the living world, and she and her friends are soon in the thick of it again.

With nearly 250 pages of story, there is plenty of room for Edge to build up the tension as the story leads to its climax.  And while the story is definitely just as good, if not better, than the first book, I am a little disappointed that the author does not take any time at all to more fully develop the characters.  As with the first book, we know that Penelope's parents are dead, she has a guardian who not only watches over her (although does not do a great job of this, since she seems to run the show and do pretty much anything she pleases - sort of like an original text Nancy Drew) but also helps her with the Penny Dreadful business, and she has a young boy who helps around the office.  We also know that Monty Maples is the down-on-his-luck actor who assumed the role of Montgomery Flinch and does nothing but whine about it the whole time.  Other than that, we learn nothing new of the characters, nor do we see any development or growth within their personalities.  They face danger, they come together to fight the villainy of the day, but in the end, when all is said and done, they are exactly as they were before the whole business started.

I have the third book, The Black Crow Conspiracy, and hopefully the story will give a little bit more insight into the characters - even if there is no growth in their personalities, perhaps we might get a bigger glimpse into their histories.

RATING:  7 out of 10 shadows on the wall for providing a well-rounded, enjoyable read.

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