"It's easy to get caught up in the adventures of grad student Dulcie Schwartz." – Oline Cogdill, Sun-Sentinel

Big sigh of relief - and big thanks out to Sun-Sentinel critic Oline Cogdill!

Simon makes her elements of the supernatural work in `Shades of Grey'
By OLINE H. COGDILL
Sun-Sentinel

-"Shades of Grey," by Clea Simon; Severn House (216 pages, $28.95)
It's easy to get caught up in the adventures of grad student Dulcie Schwartz in the start of this new series by Massachusetts author Clea Simon.
The appealing Dulcie is at a crossroads in her life: She's looking for a thesis topic in gothic literature; her best friend and usual roommate is gone for the summer; and she's just had to put her beloved cat, Mr. Grey, to sleep. To add to her woes, Tim, her housemate for the summer, is a self-centered jock who has little patience for education and a snobby girlfriend.
Duclie soon thinks she's in a gothic novel herself when Tim is killed. The trauma of having someone murdered in her own home is hard to comprehend. Now his girlfriend keeps coming by looking for something hidden in his room.
Her temp work in an insurance agency takes a weird turn with computer viruses and petty thefts. Then there is the little matter of the ghost of her cat that she swears keeps popping up.
Simon makes her elements of the supernatural work by keeping this aspect as believable as possible in "Shades of Grey." Simon brought that same sense of realism to her four cat mysteries by showing how the felines enhanced the lives of their owners. In that series, she never stooped to making detectives out of the cats, as have other cat mysteries. She brings the same standards to "Shades of Grey."
Simon also layers on the gothic ambience as she shows the joys of a library and the terrors it can hold after dark.
Dulcie is a likable, intelligent young woman who also often says the wrong thing and worries that she doesn't always fit in. She aces the test of realism in "Shades of Grey."

© 2009 San Luis Obispo Tribune and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com

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