Daryl Wood Gerber’s whimsical cozy A Flicker of a Doubt blends the world of fairies and magic with the modern world. Anyone who reads modern fantasy novels knows that this is a very difficult thing to do effectively, and often times it comes off as childish or just simply difficult to believe. Fortunately, this is not the case here. This is the fourth book in the series, but not only are characters and setting clearly laid out for new readers, there is even a lovely index of who’s who and who’s what at the front. This is especially helpful when distinguishing between the cat named Pixy and the fairy named Fiona that both live with the main character, Courtney Kelly. The charming antics of Fiona and the other fairies, as well as their carefully worked in lore, accentuates and assists Courtney through her various adventures.
The story starts off with Courtney’s friend Meaghan in a bit of a pickle involving her ex-boyfriend, Nickolas. He wants her back, but Courtney is quick to remind Meaghan about his violent temperament and how he did actually physically harm her once before. Despite these excellent points, Meaghan unfortunately has a struggle with putting him behind her, even dismissing the hurt arm as a one-time incident. Luckily, Meaghan manages to stay strong and put him off, but that ends up with him appearing at her place of business. Demonstrating his ‘artistic’ temperament, he proceeds to get into it not only with Meaghan, but also with another artist. The situation quickly escalates to violence, but no one is seriously hurt and the police do not get involved. Shortly after this, though, Nickolas turns up dead in Meaghan’s own yard, found by Meaghan’s business partner Ziggy. Having been wrapped up in murder mysteries previously, Courtney is dragged in to help her friends, but tries to do so this time without causing too much contention with local police detective Dylan Summers. Which is…difficult, since just her BEING at the crime scene is enough to have him already exasperated with her.
Courtney tries to stay out of things as the investigation progresses, but her conviction that the police are not asking the right questions, combined with Fiona’s encouragement, has her snooping around despite herself. She works with the police as much as possible, encouraging those she gets information from to share what they know with the police. If they do not, she mentions that Detective Summers might want to talk to them. Her helpful tips and ideas, however, more often than not seem to anger and frustrate him. She does try to focus on her fairy garden shop, but finds that her work for a large benefit dinner her friend, and wealthy patron, Violet Vickers, is throwing often puts her in the path of people who knew Nickolas. She also finds that Meaghan wasn’t the only woman to have been seduced by Nickolas’ charm, and that there are plenty of women in town that thought they had something special with him and were determined to try and be with him. Given his sparkling personality, Courtney is understandably confused by this effect he seemed to have on these women, but she is glad to have options to give Detective Summers that are NOT Ziggy.
While all of this is going on, her fairy friend Fiona is facing her own personal issues trying to learn new forms of fairy magics, and not giving into the temptation of going into a newly appeared fairy portal uninvited. Fiona helps the investigation by socializing with the other fairies about town to see what they know. She uses what fairy spells and potions she can to help encourage people to be more open and comfortable with Courtney when she is asking them questions. However, when their emotions are too strong or they simply are just unreceptive to the magics, Fiona’s best spells and potions have no effect. With so much going on, Courtney gives up getting a full night’s sleep more often than not to keep up with it all. However, she does take time for herself with her boyfriend Brady Cash so that she does not burn out. It is important to see that while she wants to help, Courtney does not let the investigation take over and that she is doing her best to balance all aspects of her life.
Courtney’s knowledge of the business and art worlds help her to come up with unique and creative theories for Detective Summers, and it’s thanks to her persistence that the book comes to a satisfying conclusion. One thing that piqued my curiosity were that a few times throughout the book Courtney makes comments about wanting to be a better friend. While that is an admirable goal, given what we see in this novel, I would say she is a very good friend. To get the answers as to why she feels she must endeavor to be better, readers will have to pick up the previous three books. However, after finishing A Flicker of a Doubt I can genuinely say that reading more of Daryl Wood Gerber’s works for answers will be a delight. The use of fairies and magic in the book is effective in that they affect the people and world around them, but not in too many ways that are super noticeable unless you can see them. However, to do that you have to believe that fairies are real and that magic exists. Thus, Fiona and the other fairies manage to cause little bits of mischief and fun about town without being noticed. After reading A Flicker of a Doubt, readers might find themselves wondering if the tickle at the back of their neck is really the wind, or if it is actually a little fairy giving them a little friendly greeting. – Carla Schantz
Carla Schantz is a Courthouse Clerk Supervisor and has a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a master’s in legal studies. Books have been a passion of hers since she was young, and she is a firm believer in the purse book so that she is never without a book at any time.