The Deception

Written by Kim Taylor Blakemore
Review by Beth Kanell

Kim Taylor Blakemore’s track record in psychological suspense underlies her cunning thriller, The Deception, giving a persistent darkness of manipulation and power to the tale of a grown-up “child medium.” In a New Hampshire town not all that far from Boston, Maud Price is slowly starving—both from lack of funds for food and because her childhood fame has entirely deserted her. Blakemore envisions social and professional connections among the spiritualists of 1877, such that clever Clementine Watkins, an illusionist and stage magician at heart with a deep understanding of how to get and use family information, locates Maud and offers to restore her career as the “Maid of Light.”

Clem’s deceptions are introduced slowly and labeled with the best of motives—to help a client feel relief, to ease someone’s grief—but soon Maud realizes that Clem and her boyfriend have entirely taken over Maud’s career, house, and morals. Money is rolling in, but Maud can’t live with how she’s raising it. Yet having participated willingly, she no longer has a viable escape from this villainy lest she be exposed, and all her performances, including the ones that have tapped into her authentic spirituality, be labeled fraudulent.

Besides, at her own assistance, Maud has signed a contract with Clem. And there’s no doubt that Clem’s recommendations have renewed Maud’s ability to reach the realms of the spirits. But is it because Clem realizes how Maud’s father tormented her to train her? That wouldn’t be surprising, considering how much pain Clem herself has sustained. Blakemore’s exquisite pacing and clever dialogue push the tension to the sharp edge in this plot of ambitious deceit and surprising consequences.