Time for PsyQ, the first book in Marti Ward’s planned Quantum Talents series, focuses on the detective adventures of young Airlie and her friends.
For her 11th birthday, Airlie receives Sooty, a kitten that helps Airlie find her latent psychic abilities. She discovers these talents as she begins investigating a series of thefts at her school.
With help from her two best friends, Yan and Lily (also spelled Lilly), and her newfound abilities, Airlie discovers the culprit and begins solving more crimes aided by her trusty cat, who can communicate with Airlie. Ward explains: “But it wasn’t really that she was a good detective, or particularly perceptive … just that she had this strange ability to imagine things from different perspectives, to see things that she hadn’t exactly seen.” Sooty also can visualize crime scenes from different angles. Because of their psychic abilities, Airlie, her cat and her friends and their pets are invited to attend a detecting camp, which turns out to be a quantum physics/psychic abilities camp.
Ward is a good storyteller, and the plot, especially in the middle of a case, moves quickly, with humorous asides and dialogue that will make readers giggle. But the story bogs down, especially at the camp, when the author – telling instead of showing – explains various tests and theories about psychic abilities in rambling, verbose dialogue. A psychologist at camp, Prof. Freund, says at one point, “The most likely explanation seems to be that it relates to quantum effects triggered directly or indirectly by the collider experiments, but some suggest a role for dark matter or superstring theory.” Comma splices and missing periods after “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Dr.” become annoying, though she uses a period after “Prof.”
Perhaps Ward could reach a larger audience if an editor helped smooth out the muddled bits and punctuation errors. Still, fans of Tuesdays at the Castle and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will likely enjoy the adventures of Airlie and her gang of friends, human and animal.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.