Voodoo Moon, by Ed Gorman ISBN 0312242719
Four out of five stars
This iteration of the Robert Payne series of mysteries by Ed Gorman has all the characteristics of Gorman works, specifically quality dialog and the references to places in Eastern Iowa, where I live. The problem with this book is the reliance on an actual psychic, a young woman that had genuine visions that have successfully led police to the graves of murder victims.
Over thirty years ago, a fire at the Sterling Psychiatric Hospital caused the deaths of many people and it was caused by patient Paul Renard. Renard supposedly died when he fell off a cliff in front of witnesses, but no body was ever recovered. There is a new set of gruesome murders and local boy Rick Hennessey claims that he was the perpetrator and that he is possessed by the spirit of Renard. Others claim that Renard is still alive.
The story involves a sensational, unusual news channel, a psychic woman that is Payne’s lover, other local weirdos and some that appear normal, but are in fact not. The astute reader will suspect that this is true, but the revelations at the end will surprise nearly everyone.
I always rank stories that involve psychic powers lower, due to the fact that when you grant the plot device of clairvoyance, then all things are possible. One event that I really enjoyed was when Payne was on the railroad trestle when a train was going over the bridge. Until you have experienced this situation, you have no idea how much the bridge vibrates. Doing such a thing was one of the biggest, most dangerous dares when I was growing up in eastern Iowa and the trains still ran.