Because of my thus-far questionably successful attempts to market my writing, I've joined several online networking sites, including Twitter. One very positive side of all of this shameless self-promotion has been meeting a number of highly talented fellow writers, and getting an opportunity to read their work (which otherwise I probably never would have found).
A. J. Aalto stands out amongst these new e-friends as one of the funniest, quickest, and most creative people in the Twitterverse. I have long since learned not to drink anything while reading her tweets, as I have on more than one occasion almost splattered the computer screen with coffee because of something hilarious she's posted. So when I got my first e-reader, her book Touched was one of the first three I downloaded.
Touched (available at Amazon here) is the story of Marnie Baranuik, the rather manic psychic detective whose skills are enhanced through her relationship with Guy Harrick "Harry" von Dreppenstedt, who also happens to be a 435-year-old vampire (excuse me, "revenant" -- the undead resent being referred to by the v-word, and the last thing you want is a pissed-off revenant gunning for your sorry ass). At the beginning of the book, Marnie has given up detecting for good and all, having had a rather painful experience during her last bout -- painful in both the literal and figurative sense, because of a gunshot wound and a passionate but brief relationship with Mark Batten, a fellow detective and fervent revenant-hater. But circumstances are not going to allow Marnie to remain in early retirement for long, and those circumstances include bringing Batten back into all-too-close proximity.
What happens next would be spoiled by my giving any further details, but it is by turns screamingly funny, devastatingly ghastly (let's just say that the phrase "ghoul slime on the carpet" is one I never want to have to think about again), and all the way through a riproaring thriller. But what sets this book apart from others in its genre is the characters; all too often, characters in paranormal thrillers are effectively interchangeable, and nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Touched. From Marnie's frenetic and self-deprecating sardonic wit, to Harry's silk-over-a-sword-edge cordiality, to Batten's tough guy bluster, each of the characters rings as true as sterling. We wouldn't even need "... said Marnie," "... said Harry," and so on to know who's talking. And this extends even to the minor characters -- the occult-store owner Ruby Valli and the psychic detective wannabee Danika Sherlock are also brilliantly drawn.
But enough of that. Do yourself a favor and buy Touched, but make sure you have enough time set aside over the next couple of weeks, because you won't want to put it down.