Monday, September 15, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Nightmares Can Be Murder (Dream Club #1) by Mary Kennedy

Dream Team

Business consultant Taylor Blake has returned to Savannah, Georgia, to help her sister Allison turn her dream of running an old-fashioned candy store into a reality. Allison is also interested in dream interpretation and invites Taylor to her Friday night Dream Club, where members meet once a week to share and analyze their dreams.

When a local dance instructor, Chico Hernandez, is found dead in his studio, and the murder scene has an eerie resemblance to one of the dreams shared at their meeting, Taylor can’t help but be intrigued. And when her sister, who was briefly involved with the dance teacher, becomes the prime suspect, Taylor and their fellow club members can’t be caught napping. It’s up to them to dream up a solution to the murder before Allison faces a real-life nightmare.

The Strange and Wonderful World of Dreams

When I told my friends and colleagues about my new Penguin series, The Dream Club Mysteries, I was surprised at the outpouring of interest and support.  Everyone, it seems, is fascinated by dreams, curious about their meaning and dying to discuss their own dreams.  Are dreams really the "royal road to the unconscious" as Sigmund Freud proposed?  Can they give us new insights into our own deepest thoughts and most hidden emotions?  Or are they simply random firings of neurons as the brain rests and recharges itself, taking a few hours to deal with the "residue of the day?"  

I knew I had to write a book about dreams and especially about "dream clubs," which are quite popular here in the northeast.  In The Dream Club Mysteries, a group of Savannah women meet once a week to share their dreams, eat some delicious pastries and solve a murder or two.  

Ali Blake, who runs a vintage candy shop right off the Historic District, founded the Dream Club.  When business was flat, she invited her high powered MBA sister, Taylor, to join her in Savannah in the hopes that she could pump up business.  Taylor was a skeptical about dream interpretation at first, but now she's becoming a believer.  

There's a good mix of characters in the club; the Harper sisters, who are well into their eighties and know everything about anyone who has lived in Savannah for the past fifty years, Sam Stiles, a local policewoman, and Sybil Powers, who fancies herself a "dream hopper."  If you've never heard of a dream hopper, it's someone who claims she can "visit" other people's dreams.  And of course, there's a hunky private detective, Noah Chandler who helps with the investigations.  

Sometimes the Dream Club meetings are full of surprises.  In Nightmares Can Be Murder, the first of my Dream Club Mysteries, Lucinda Macavey, a prim and proper headmistress of a girls' school in Savannah, recounts a most unusual dream.  She finds herself shopping in the frozen food aisle of the local supermarket - stark naked!  Nothing could be more out of character for the shy Lucinda and the dream club members offer various interpretations.  

Appearing naked in dreams is actually quite common.  The dreamer finds herself in a public place "without a stitch on," and yet onlookers seem not to notice.  Dreams don't follow the rules of logic and time and space don't exist in dreams.  Also, there is no "backstory" in dreams.  The dream exists in the present.  Lucinda doesn't ponder how she got to the supermarket, how she could have possibly driven there naked, how she could have left the house without clothes or why no one stopped her.  She is just "there," in the immediate situation in the supermarket and has to deal with it.  

So how did the dream club handle Lucinda's dream in my mystery novel?  The dream members agree that being naked is a metaphor for feeling helpless and vulnerable.  Maybe Lucinda has a deep dark secret that she doesn't want exposed?  Maybe she has hidden urges that she doesn't dare acknowledge?  

Lucinda seems to be a very proper Southern lady, but in her dreams, she has been thrust into her worst nightmare - appearing naked in public.  Lucinda joins in the discussion and admits that she has been experiencing some stress lately.  She took early retirement from the Academy and she's not sure of her future plans.  Uncertainty - in any form, whether it relates to a job or a relationship or finances - can lead to anxiety and that might explain Lucinda's dream.  (Other things might explain Lucinda's anxiety, but I can't say more without revealing the plot.) 

If you think you might enjoy reading more about the Dream Club and the clever way the members rely on their insights to solve a few murders, I hope you'll read Nightmares Can Be Murder.  You might be in for some surprises, and I guarantee you will look at your dreams in a whole new way!  

Mary Kennedy is a clinical psychologist in private practice and lives on the East Coast with her husband and eight neurotic cats.  Both husband and cats have resisted all her attempts to psychoanalyze them, but she remains optimistic.  

Originality is generally rare when it comes to cozy mystery series.  Not to say that there aren't many unique and creative books in the genre, but there are very few that catch me off guard and that I'd consider truly original.  This is one of those series.  

To develop a story around a character who belongs to a group of eccentric people that sit around and talk about their dreams, and make it work as a mystery is beyond impressive.  Not only is it impressive, but it's extremely entertaining and somewhat insightful.  Each and every detail of the story is important, and the dreams themselves almost work as additional characters!

My favorite part of this story, however, is the chemistry that all of the characters have with one another.  Taylor, Ali, the Harper Sisters, Sam, Noah... all of them work well together and drive the story.  I especially like the angle that the author takes with the private detective, Noah.  It's also rare to find a male character in a cozy that has you swooning!  

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the dream analyzing, the "whodunnit" guessing, and I loved the setting of Savannah :)  A fantastic first book in what promises to be a wonderful new series!  

Rating:  5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 paperback copy of Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!

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Karen B said...

No LIKE that I can find - only FRIEND.

Unknown said...

Yes, it's an Add Friend option.

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I did the friend option. Marjorie Roy

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