Julie Ann James
The Peppertree Press (2014)
Reviewed by David K. McDonnell for Reader Views (07/17)
“Irish Jewel” by Julie Ann James is a mystery thriller involving the kidnapping of a Florida woman on the eve of her wedding to an Irish jewelry dealer. Without divulging the plot, it is the jewelry dealer who is the target of the caper. The kidnapper, known in the early chapters only as the “Instigator” is uncanny in his knowledge about the jewelry dealer, to the point of being eerie. The source of his inside information is not revealed until much later in the book, along with the rest of the “big reveal”. All of which leads to an easy-to-read, enjoyable mystery.
The story is set in Dublin – the site of both the wedding and the kidnapping. James does a nice job describing many of the sites and scenes of Dublin, but the setting is secondary. The story could as easily taken place in Florida, or anywhere else in the world, without changing the nature of the story one iota.
The story is a bit trite at times, with “lovebirds” planning a wedding, and a life in which the couple live “across the pond” from one another. And it includes some turn of phrases which may appeal to some readers, but not others. For example, the bride thumbed through her wedding planner “skimming the pages for the final ‘to dos’ before the “I dos’ actually took place.”
With the exception of the bride, the characters are not fully fleshed out. The parents of both the bride and groom, the bride’s sister, the Irish police officers, and even the groom and the Instigator, all seem one dimensional. The bride, in contrast, is a fully developed character with whom it was easy to empathize. She young, attractive, ambitious, and in love before the abduction; frightened yet defiant during.
There is a surprise ending, which is almost a requirement of the genre. It caught me entirely off-guard and I had to re-read several chapters of the book to see if it made any sense. I’m still not sure that it does.
Julie Ann James does a wonderful job working through each chapter of the story to lead the reader on to the next chapter. This helps make “Irish Jewel” an interesting tale and delightful mystery.