"FA$T MONEY: A Shelby Nichols Adventure," by Colleen Helme, CreateSpace, $10.95, 188 pages, (f)
Shelby Nichols is the "Medium" in print with the ability to read minds instead of communicate with ghosts.
Like Alison Dubois from TV fame, Nichols seems to have a penchant for getting into situations that put her in mortal danger. She's also pretty stubborn about persisting until she finds out what's going on.
Unlike Dubois, Nichols has a consistent Mafia "friend" who is pulling the strings and creating problems for her. His world is dark and his methods illegal. Thus his nickname, the Knife Joey Manetto.
"Uncle" Joey wants Nichols to help him by reading the minds of those in his world and isn't above coercing her assistance. That was made clear in the first book.
In "Fa$t Money," Nichols stands up for herself just enough to impress the mobster and some of his friends. She's fairly feisty and unabashed even in the face of real danger.
She doesn't, however, confide in her husband soon enough and often enough to avoid getting kidnapped and shot at a couple or three times.
She's pretty much a soccer mom trying to handle real-life situations, like unexpectedly finding $5 million in the bank account and running straight into a gunman staging a prisoner escape at the courthouse.
She's also clueless as to how ruthless and brutal mob-type people can be. She sails along without serious injury or disfigurement as she lives life on the edge of a cliff.
So amazingly, the tone of the book stays light and breezy throughout.
It makes for a good, pleasant read if you don't think about it too deeply.
After all, how many times can one be in mortal danger before the stress starts to really get to you?
The "Fa$t Money" plotline is simple even with three (or is it four?) different guys trying to get to Nichols.
There's also a fairly realistic subplot as the husband tries to adjust to having his wife read all of his thoughts, both loving and uncharitable, through a number of trying circumstances.
It's laudable that the author can keep her heroine alive and pretty much unharmed while still keeping the tension going.
And Salt Lake author Colleen Helme keeps the dialogue pretty honest throughout.
It would be even better if there were more story inbetween the snatchings and a little less life-and-death drama.
Maybe in the third book (we all know it's coming and that's a good thing), Helme will hit her stride.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.