Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on The Spiritualist.
The Spiritualist by Megan Chance is an atmospheric mystery that takes place in the winter of 1865 in New York City. Evelyn (Evie) Atherton, a newly married socialite, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her husband when he is found dead after a sťance given by Michel Jourdain, a noted spiritualist. Evie must find the killer to escape being hanged for her husband's murder, and this leads her into the world of spirit rappers - psychics who believe they can communicate with the dead.
Evie becomes the main suspect because she will inherit her husband's entire fortune after his death, leaving his family with nothing. Peter, a wealthy lawyer, married Evie even though she came from a different social class, and now his family has turned against her and wants her thrown in jail.
Evie is released from jail but must not leave the city, remaining under the care of a respected member of society - Dorothy Bennett, a wealthy older woman and a client of her husband's. Dorothy clearly has been seduced by the enigmatic Jourdain, hosting frequent sťances where Jourdain communicates with her dead sons.
Evie suspects Jourdain of her husband's murder. She does not believe in his ability to speak to the dead and wants to expose him as a fraud. Jourdain is not who he seems, she believes, and she starts to dig deeper into his past to find her husband's killer.
The Spiritualist is not a short novel. Once I got settled into the plot, I wanted the novel to move at a faster pace, but the final hundred pages are full of excitement. The novel lacks some of the historical detail that I felt would be present in a novel taking place in 1865. And although I was not shocked or surprised when the final mystery was solved, I enjoyed the journey.