It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that something’s not right on Bay Island...
Since she left her psychiatric practice in New York City to open up a psychic shop in her hometown on Bay Island, Cass Donovan has given her fair share of readings to conflicted customers. But what she sees in Ellie Callahan’s future doesn’t bode well.
When Ellie’s mother, Marge, publicly confronts Cass about the reading, the embarrassment makes her want to curl up and die. And when she later stumbles across Marge’s body—and is a suspect in her murder—Cass is suddenly the star of Bay Island’s rumor mill.
Cass is determined to prove her innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in her unfortunate vision. But even with the help of her friends Bee and Stephanie, Cass will have to channel some serious sleuthing instincts to find the real killer...
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Cass sucked in a breath, the gasp audible in the silence of the small room. Oh no . . . The walls pressed in on her, loomed over her, threatened to suffocate her. This can't be happening again.
"Is everything all right?"
"Umm . . . sure." Darkness encroached, tunneling her vision. She forced it back, counted to ten, took deep breaths-anything to fight back the blackness. She struggled against the urge to push the glass ball away from her. "Sorry. I must have zoned out for a minute." She averted her gaze, hoping the other woman wouldn't catch the lie.
The woman's eyebrows drew together, a frown creasing her forehead. "Are you sure you didn't see anything bad?"
Cass forced a laugh as she shoved her chair back, stood, and moved away from the table. "Of course not. I told you I would only allow good spirits to enter." Liar.
Ellie Callahan shrugged. "So, what's the verdict?" Though she feigned indifference, eagerness lit her eyes.
"You know I can't give you specifics, Ellie." Impatience shortened Cass's temper, and she worked to soften her tone. She sighed and started to clean up. "Everything will work out. It's just going to take time." She wanted to tell her the truth-that her husband was a no-good, two-timing cheat who would never amount to anything, but she bit her tongue. It wouldn't change the fact that Ellie was going to go back to him, but it would hurt her. The young girl had been hurt enough. Besides, if the shadow that had slipped across Cass's vision was any indication, Ellie had bigger problems headed her way. Should she warn her? Warn her about what? Cass shook off a chill.
"Thank you so much, Cass." Ellie stood as well, lifted her bag from the back of the chair, and tucked it beneath her arm. Relief had relaxed Ellie's rigid posture and softened the scowl she usually wore, leaving her with a vulnerable appearance that tugged at Cass.
"No problem. Just do me a favor and don't tell your mother you were here."
Ellie blushed. "I'm sorry about Mom. She's kind of old-fashioned, and she doesn't understand . . . well . . . you know." She lowered her gaze to the crystal ball in the center of the table.
Cass nodded. "I know. It's okay."
Ellie held a twenty out to Cass.
"Don't worry about it. This one's on the house."
Ellie smiled and met Cass's gaze. "You sure?" She pushed her mousy brown hair back out of her face.
"Thank you." Ellie turned to go.
As she crossed the room, Cass fought the urge to call her back. What could she say? Be careful? Of what? The woman already had enough on her mind, her fragile nerves strung taut. A wandering husband, an overbearing mother-she didn't need any more.
As the door fell shut behind Ellie, Cass finally yanked the sash off her head, tumbling her long blond hair down her back, and reached up to massage her pounding temples. The constant throbbing kept time with the frantic beating of her heart, reminding her once again of the shadow that had crossed her vision. She shivered and dismissed the thought. She couldn't deal with this now. She was going to be late. Again.
The coin belt jangled as she slid it off and dropped it onto the table. She quickly discarded the flowing robe, hanging it over the velvet chair she'd just vacated, and pulled an oversized sweatshirt over her leggings and camisole.
After tossing the empty foam cups in the garbage, Cass pushed the remaining three chairs into place, returned the crystal ball to the shelf on the side wall, and ran a rag over the scarred wood table. That would have to be good enough for now.
The huge back window framed a perfect view of the bay, as well as the lighthouse that stood at the tip of the island, not far from her shop. A young couple crossed the beach, hand in hand, and climbed the two steps to Cass's back porch. Not local. She knew most of the locals by sight, if not personally. These two were tourists, for sure.
The wind chimes above the door tinkled as they entered the shop. Great. Just what she needed.
A quick glance at the clock above the door confirmed her fears. Three thirty. Ellie's reading had taken half an hour longer than expected. She'd have to hurry if she was going to make it to the theater on time. "May I help you?" She moved behind the counter and tossed the rag into a basket beneath the register.
"Hi." The man smiled and used his free hand to gesture toward the lighthouse while his companion looked on dreamily. "We were just over at the lighthouse, but there's no one around."
A blush stole over the young woman's cheeks as she giggled. When she lifted a hand to her mouth, her engagement ring caught the reflection of the late-afternoon sun.
"Nope. After Labor Day, the lighthouse is only open on weekends."
"Oh." Disappointment emanated from him.
"They have beautiful ceremonies, though. Well worth coming back out over the weekend if you want to book one."
The woman gasped. "How did you know we wanted to get married?"
Cass tapped the sign beside the register: psychic readings. "Sunset is the best time. Sometimes I sit out on the back porch and watch if I'm not too busy. Gorgeous."
"Wow. Are you really psychic?"
Not exactly. "That's what the sign says."
The woman's hand fluttered to her chest. "That is so cool. I've always wanted to go to a psychic."
Cass grinned. "I'll tell you what. I'm closing right now, but if you come back to talk to someone at the lighthouse over the weekend, come on in. I'll even give you a discount as an early wedding present."
"That'd be great. Thanks." They turned to go, but the woman stopped and turned back. "Do you do parties?"
"I do group readings."
She chewed her thumbnail. "We can't get back out this weekend, but if I come back next weekend with my bridesmaids, could you do a group reading for all of us together?"
"Sure." Cass rounded the counter and handed the woman a business card. "Just give me a call and we'll set something up. While you're out here, if you haven't already chosen a dress, Dreamweaver Designs is only a few doors down and has a beautiful line of beach wedding dresses." Maybe Bee would cut her some slack for being late if she sent him a customer. Another quick look at the clock. And then again, maybe not.
After locking the back door behind the couple, Cass grabbed her keys from the shelf behind the counter, slung her big leather tote bag over her shoulder, and headed for the front door. She turned the key in the lock of Mystical Musings and ran for the small, gravel parking lot. Crap. She stood frozen, staring at the empty lot. Great. How could she have forgotten she walked to the shop this morning? It had been such a beautiful fall day, and the walk along the beach from her house to the shop always relaxed her.
She heaved a sigh of resignation and started walking down the boardwalk. Bee would just have to start rehearsal without her.
She passed Dreamweaver Designs, only three doors down from Mystical Musings, and hesitated. Bee must have worked all night redesigning the front window display, which was typical for him. A black evening gown she'd never seen before was prominently displayed. Stunning. He'd really outdone himself this time. Maybe he'd let her wear that for the fashion show.
Of course, she'd have to lay off all the late-night fast food if she was going to wear the completely open back reflected in the mirror behind the display. As it was, she managed to stay slim only because she walked along the beach so often.
A shadow fell over her as someone rode past on a bike. Ellie. That disturbing darkness during her reading would undoubtedly haunt Cass all day. What was she going to do about warning Ellie? Doing nothing didn't sit right in her gut, and yet . . . What could she really do?
She hurried on her way, stepping off the boardwalk, crossing the narrow beach road, and heading toward the theater. She inhaled deeply. The cool, crisp air did little to relieve her headache but soothed her nerves a bit. This was her favorite time of year; the red, gold, and orange leaves creating a colorful backdrop for the island brought her such comfort. Her footsteps tapped a steady rhythm against the pavement, past the quaint shops, which dotted the beach road. As she headed toward the center of the island, old farmhouses lay scattered between small fields filled with corn, pumpkins, wildflowers, giving the entire landscape the look of a patchwork quilt-tranquil, comforting, and relaxing. A place you could snuggle down and enjoy the cozy feeling of being home.
Until the weekend, anyway, when crowds of tourists would flock to the tiny island that sat between the North and South Forks of Long Island. On Friday they'd come from New York City in droves, jamming up the expressway, filling the Long Island Rail Road cars, scrambling to reach Bay Island before ferry service stopped for the night.
She couldn't complain, though. Winter would come soon enough, and then she'd have to rely on her savings from the summer tourist season.
The acres slowly gave way to newer housing developments, and she stepped onto the sidewalk where it began. As she waited to cross Main Street, several passersby waved. She returned their greetings without much enthusiasm, though. She glanced at her watch, impatience warring with the throbbing in her head. The headache won out. She was already well over an hour late, but Bee would have to manage without her a few minutes longer.
When she reached the two small strips of white clapboard stores, which sat facing each other across Main Street and made up the "town" of Bay Island, she ran across the street and into the deli.
Habit had her scanning the small shop as she entered. Her gaze faltered when it landed on a stranger seated at one of the tables arranged in one corner of the shop. On the table in front of him was an open laptop, which he appeared to be totally engrossed in, with a coffee cup beside it. While strangers weren't unusual in town, especially at this time of year, there was something about this man that caught her attention.
She laughed at herself. It was most likely his devilish good looks. Dark, shaggy hair hung just past the collar of his leather jacket, giving him the bad boy look Cass had always found so attractive.
"Hey, Cass. How come you're not at the theater?"
Cass jumped, startled by the question and feeling a little guilty about getting caught checking out a complete stranger. "I could ask you the same thing." Cass joined the line waiting for service.
Stephanie laughed. "I was there. I just ran out for coffee." She lifted a cup holder with three large to-go cups as proof.
"Is one of those for me?"
Stephanie's smile was contagious, and Cass grinned back. "You're a lifesaver." She took a step forward as the line inched up. "Hey, could you hang out a minute? I have to grab something for this headache, but I walked to the shop this morning and I'm already late and, well, you know . . ."
Good humor lit Stephanie's brown eyes. They both knew Bee's tantrum would be worse the later Cass got there.
"Yeah, I can wait. Of course, then we'll both be in trouble."
"You know what they say-misery loves company." Cass moved up again.
"What's the headache from?" Stephanie held one of the coffee cups out to Cass. "Here, maybe caffeine will help." At the sound of bells tinkling, Stephanie glanced past Cass toward the door that had just opened. Her smile faltered, and she tucked her frizzy brown hair behind her ear. She mumbled something under her breath, but Cass didn't quite catch it.
Cass turned to look over her shoulder and came face-to-face with an irate Marge Hawkins. Uh-oh.
The deep scowl and flushed cheeks were all the warning Cass needed to know Ellie hadn't kept her promise not to tell her mother she'd visited Cass for a reading. Oh well-that poor girl never could stand up to her mother.
"What did you tell my Ellie?" Marge pointed a finger and a wickedly sharp, bloodred nail within an inch of Cass's face.
Cass took a step back and bumped into the person in line in front of her.
"Sorry." She didn't even turn at the indignant cry, hesitant to turn her back on Marge and her claws.
"We've been through this before, Ms. Hawkins. What I tell a client is confidential." Cass gripped her cup tightly and held her ground.
The irate woman huffed out a breath and moved even closer. Spittle sprayed from her mouth, and Cass had to resist the urge to reach up and wipe her face. "You listen to me, young lady. This is the last time I'm going to tell you to stay away from my daughter. I don't give a hoot about your fancy degree or your hocus-pocus. Just stay away from my Ellie. The next time I catch you near her, I'm calling Chief Langdon." She poked her claw into Cass's chest for good measure, then spun on her heel and strode out of the deli.
Cass heaved in a deep breath, struggling for control. The headache battered at her, and clamping her teeth so tightly together wasn't helping matters. Hot coffee trickled onto her hand, and she loosened her hold on the cup.
"Hmm . . . next time I say 'Don't look now' . . . you might want to listen." Stephanie's laughter seeped through Cass's rigid muscles, releasing some of the tension.
She reached up to massage the back of her neck. "Oh, is that what you said? Next time speak up a little." She laughed, but without any real humor. Sure, Cass had been publicly humiliated, but there wasn't much Marge could do to her. Cass hadn't done anything wrong, and Ellie was a grown, married woman. That didn't stop the chill from racing up Cass's spine at the memory of the dark shadow that had crossed her vision while Ellie had been with her. Ugh . . . She was going to have to call Ellie and give her a warning. No way would she be able to sleep tonight if she didn't at least try to tell Ellie to be careful.
"Come on, move up." Stephanie took her arm and turned her toward the register. "If we don't get going soon, Bee's fit is going to make Marge's tantrum look tame."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very good start to a new mystical mystery series by author Lena Gregory. I was hesitant about reading DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT. I’m not much into reading about psychics and such. However, something clicked on the very first page for me. I instantly liked protagonist Cass Donovan. I love when that happens. There’s just something about the way her character is written. And that connection continued as I was introduced to Cass’s friends. For a first is a series, the characters are very well thought out. DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT was a really wonderfully written mystery. There was so much subterfuge going on, I thought I was going to need a crystal ball to figure it all out. But nothing could have prepared me for the shocking reveal. Even if I was psychic, I wouldn’t have seen it coming. Cozy fans are going to love DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT. Para-cozy fans are going to be thrilled! Take a peek at the back of the book for an excerpt of book two in the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, OCCULT AND BATTERY.
Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite Death at First Sight by Lena Gregory is the first book in the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series. It all starts when Cass Donovan does a reading for Ellie Callahan. What should have been a routine reading goes horribly wrong as a shadow crosses Cass' vision. Before she can gather the courage to warn Ellie of what she really saw, Ellie leaves. Cass is running late for her friend Dee's fashion show rehearsal. She barely makes it to the theater when Ellie's mom, Marge Hawkins, threatens her to stay away from Ellie, and she discovers Dee's show date is yanked out from under him to accommodate Marge's play. To make her day worse, she stumbles upon Marge's body in the theater and the chief of police seems have her pegged for the murder. With her two best friends, she decides to take the investigation into her own hands to find the real killer. All isn't dire as she receives a message from a handsome stranger wanting a reading and she makes a surprising discovery in Marge's house. A delightful start to a new series, Death at First Sight has a fantastic sleuth in Cass Donovan who is spunky, bold, and absolutely charming. Cass has been home for a year, so she's found a groove with her routine working in her shop and with her friends. She's a member of the community again but not everyone has welcomed her back with open arms, which is touched upon a few times throughout as a few are quick to judge her as the murderer. The biggest support comes from her friends, Dee and Stephanie, who even help her with a few crazy capers. They're everything you'd want in friendship goals. Stephanie is her old best friend whom she's reunited with after many years and their history is easily read in their easy dynamic. Dee is a newer friend she's had since her return home, but he's also a strong shoulder for her to lean on, fiercely dedicated and incredibly funny. Both friends are easily swept into Cass' schemes with Dee as the more cautious voice and Stephanie as the one who encourages, tending to be right with Cass to dive headlong into trouble. The three make for the perfect trio as this group of friends has a sweet family vibe easily seen in how they interact and take care of each other. The mystery has a nice ominous touch as Cass is led around in circles to put together how the shadow she keeps seeing fits in with the clues that she uncovers. Some parts of the story give off the vibe of a feel-good comedy with three friends getting into trouble while other parts feel like the start of a sweet romantic comedy that begins with a handsome stranger. Then the rest is a complicated mystery full of twists, suspects who blame each other, and surprising secrets uncovered from the past. Lena Gregory has a fun voice and writes splendid characters you'll immediately fall in love with. Death at First Sight leaves you anxiously waiting for the next mystery with Cass and her two best friends.
I just loved this book! It was a quick read and I was done in a day! I enjoyed the characters and the dialogue between everyone. I was guessing until the end as to how to solve the mystery! It was greatly entertaining and I am so looking forward to the next books in this series!
DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT is an enjoyable book. The heroine is easy to relate to, and the mystery kept me guessing. The characters, including the suspects, are all unique and make for a fun story. The psychic element doesn't play a big role, making this more of a straightforward cozy. Overall, I found this to be a good, light read. Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway.
Whether you believe in physics or not, you’re going to enjoy author Lena Gregory’s new series and especially her protagonist, Cass Donovan. The characters are well-developed and easy to like. As their backstories are revealed, the more they draw you in. The protagonist is a feisty character with traits readers can relate to. She knows her strengths and weaknesses but has great determination. The secondary characters are quirky and add another layer to the story. The small-town setting is perfect for this story. The mix of local residents and seasonal tourists adds to the flavor. Moving at a steady pace, the story quickly pulls you in and holds your attention until the end. A good blend of mystery, dash of romance, friendship, and suspense makes this a book hard to put down. DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT is a tantalizing start to a fresh new series. You even get a sneak preview of the next installment, OCCULT AND BATTERY, at the end. FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
I enjoyed this first book in the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series. I liked the characters, especially the main character Cass. She has an interesting backstory that was only touched upon in this book and I'm looking forward to learning more about her. She is living in her hometown after having moved away for several years to Manhattan where she was a psychiatrist. She now owns Mystical Musings where she does psychic readings. The mystery in this book kept me guessing and I was on the edge of my seat at the end to see how things would turn out. I'm anxious to read the next book in this series. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book provided by Berkley Prime Crime/Penguin Random House.
In Death At First Sight, the first book in the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series, author Lena Gregory weaves an intriguing cozy mystery tale that follows the amateur sleuth adventures of psychic Cass Donovan when she finds herself a suspect in the death of local resident Marge Hawkins. Set in the quaint Long Island coastal town of Bay Island, Cass is the owner of Mystical Musings, a psychic shop in her hometown. She has provided the local residents with many psychic readings, but after a disturbing reading for Ellie Callahan leaves Cass with a dark feeling, she is publicly confronted by Ellie's mother Marge Hawkins, who tells Cass to leave her daughter alone. And to make matters worse, Cass stumbles upon Marge's dead body in the local theater the next morning, and is arrested on the suspicion of murder. Using her psychic abilities and with the help of best friends Stephanie and Bee, Cass is determined to find the real killer and clear her name. Death At First Sight is a captivating and fast-paced whodunit tale that has enough quirky characters, witty banter and humor, drama, danger, and intriguing twists and turns that will keep you guessing the identity of the murderer. You can't help but get caught up in the drama and calamity that ensues as Cass uses her psychic instincts to solve the murder and clear her name. Cass' amateur investigative adventure unfolds with a wonderful balance of comedy, drama, and suspense that easily kept me guessing, and left me wanting more. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the rich description of the quaint coastal Long Island setting of Bay Island, there is nothing like being transported away to a beach setting that invites you sink your feet in the sand and surf. Death At First Sight is an entertaining cozy murder mystery that will easily engage you to join Cass in her latest psychic mystery adventures! Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.
A great start to a new series from a debut author. I will admit it that it took me awhile to get into Death at First Sight, the first book in Lena Gregory’s Bay Island Psychic Mystery series. I initially felt like the characters were part of a click like in high school and I was the new kid in school. The book read like a sequel and I felt as though I was missing something. I shouldn't have fretted. The back stories of the characters come out throughout the book, some of which are surprising. Cass Donovan is a former New York City psychiatrist turned psychic, who owns Mystical Musings, a small shop located in her hometown of Bay Island. She definitely has her skeptics. I would equate her to Patrick Jane from The Mentalist. She uses her observation skills to read people and figure out what they need. While doing a reading for Ellie Hawkins, she gets a very dark feeling. She tries to suppress her reaction and chooses not to pass her fears onto Ellie. Eventually, Cass has a very public run-in with Ellie’s mother, Marge. The next morning, Cass discovers Marge’s lifeless body in the theatre. All clues point to Cass, but she's having a hard time getting the police to believe she had nothing to do with the murder. With the Police Chief gunning for Cass and seemingly not looking for other suspects, she decides she has to find the real killer herself. Could it be Marge’s own daughter who is always trying to please her or her son-in-law who despises her? Or perhaps it's the new stranger in town who doesn’t really answer any questions directed at him. One thing is for sure, Cass isn't going to stop until she finds the actual killer. Told in third person, Death at First Sight has a handful of characters who are easy to fall in love in with. Lena Gregory has created a world that’s easy to get lost in. Once you start reading, you aren’t going to want to put the book down. I found myself attempting to figure out who the murderer was but still wasn’t totally sure. I will say Lena created a mystery filled with surprises and a mind-blowing reveal. I can’t wait until April when Occult and Battery comes out!
We're just starting to scratch the surface of the truths in Bay Island. DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT by Lena Gregory The First Bay Island Psychic Mystery Cass is a natural at reading people, but sometimes she gets a bit extra when giving psychic readings to her clients. Seeing a shadow during a regular client's reading makes Cass more than a bit uneasy. Her feeling of dread increase when confronted by the woman's overbearing mother, Marge, and seeing her client's philandering husband roaming around town with another woman. These feelings are validated when Cass finds Marge's murdered body in the theatre. But did Cass see danger for Madge, Ellie, or herself as the Sheriff is determined to find Cass guilty of murder! With her good friends supporting her and a sexy stranger showing up wherever she turns Cass is determined to find answers. Gregory assembles a good assortment of characters in DEATH AT FIRST SIGHT. At the forefront we have a trio of friends: the happy go lucky woman married to a member of law enforcement, the flamboyant man with a darker past, and a psychiatrist turned psychic who doesn't actually believe she has any psychic abilities. We also have the downtrodden wife, the slimy abusive husband, the vitriolic mother, a sexy stranger, and an assortment of townsfolk, all with their own stories.There's a lot of information hinted at, showing us that we're just starting to scratch the surface of the truths in Bay Island. There's a lot more darkness than light here. We have domestic abuse and lots of secrets buried in the past that are primed to rise to the surface. I enjoyed the bits about divination the author sprinkled in, especially appreciated Cass's knowledge and use of crystals and I'm intrigued by her color reading, a form seemingly more in tune with her days as a psychiatrist. Of course, I'm in love with Beast and hope he can train Cass quickly! FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.