Twenty-something Derry O’Donnell is an out-of-work actress. With bills to pay, and talent to use, she is frustrated that her agent seems to have forgotten her phone number. When Derry and her friend Bella (another out-of-work actress) put their heads together, they come up with a plan.
Derry is the daughter of the seventh son of a seventh son. In Ireland, that means they can do all kinds of mystical things. Derry has always played around with tarot cards and her crystal ball and though her ‘sightings’ are undependable, she sometimes frightens even herself. Bella suggests that Derry use her ‘gift’ to make money. Hence, the inception of Derry’s new alter-ego, Madam Tulip.
“Playing Madam Tulip wasn’t quite Broadway, but it was a performance.”
Kismet comes into play when through her artist, blarney-filled, horse-racing mad father, Jacko O’Donnell, Derry meets a famous model at the races. Marlene Doyle, the model, invites Derry to a celebrity event in a castle where she will be PAID to work as her alter-ego, Madam Tulip. A lot of A-list celebrities will be at this charity event so the gig will be a good test-run for Madam Tulip and her abilities. Derry gets an outfit and wig from some of her actress friends and gets some business cards printed up.
“How far might anyone go to save a flawed loved one from disaster and disgrace?”
As one might expect, the weekend gig at the Castle doesn’t go quite as one might have suspected. And subsequent events seem to finally make sense of Derry’s former ‘vision’ of a yellow frog on a lily-pad…
What a joyful romp of a read that was! I suppose you could class it as a humourous ‘cozy’ mystery. I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it, as I don’t usually care that much for cozies. If I had to tell a stranger about Derry O’Donnell I would say she is a cross between Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Mahone and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones.
Derry’s ex-love, Lawrence FitzAllen of the Metropolitan Police plays a minor role in this novel, but I’m sure we will make his acquaintance further in subsequent Madam Tulip novels.
The characters and setting in this novel were vividly portrayed. The author uses humour to tell his story, and he uses it to good effect making me smile often and cause me to laugh aloud at one juncture. The author’s joy in his character shines throughout the narrative.
With wealthy ne’er-do-wells, drug smugglers, stud farms, and a buffoon-like Jacko, the ending chapters were suspense-filled, though admittedly a little over the top.
There are two more Madam Tulip novels and I do plan to read them both. They are just the ticket for a literary palate-cleanser between dark and disturbing thrillers. Well done David Ahern!
“Madam Tulip” was my first read for “Reading Ireland Month” 2019.
David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.
Madam Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. The second in the Madam Tulip mystery series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, was published in autumn 2016. The third Madam Tulip adventure, Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance, was released April 12, 2018. David Ahern loves pretending all this is actual work.
David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden.