Published: March 2020 by Malin Press
Category: Cosy Mystery, Drama, Suspense, Romance, Book Review
Actress Derry O’Donnell, moonlighting as fortune-teller Madam Tulip, finds herself in a famous pop singer’s entourage.
But at the star’s glittering birthday party in the Dublin mountains, Derry finds a band riven by rivalries and feuds. Behind the trouble is a mysterious Russian guru, a shaman hated by everyone but the singer whose life she dominates.
Derry O’ Donnell, a talented but at the moment jobless actress, along with her friends, rising TV star Bella and ex Navy SEAL Bruce, have secured a three week run for their fledgling theatre company. Pat Kelly, pub owner and band manager, has offered a room above the pub as a venue. But first Derry was required to grant a favour and become her alter ego, Madam Tulip, for a party. Pat Kelly manages pop group Maramar and is hosting a birthday bash for the lead singer, Aileen.
Madam Tulip was born as a means for Derry to make some cash when jobs were scarce. Not that she was a fraud, she was the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son and was a skilled tarot and palm reader which she practices withy integrity. However, all too often her other persona had lead her into situations she would rather have avoided. But it seems without Madam Tulip the theatre company would be a no-go.
Almost as soon as she arrives at the retreat in the Dublin mountains, Derry is made aware Pat Kelly wants her to compromise her moral principles.
Gloom settled on Derry like a cold fog. She felt the energy drain from her body. Why did people always want something you weren’t selling and shouldn’t sell? Predictable. Tedious. Wearying. Too depressing to be merely a bore.
During the weekend Derry finds herself an unwitting confidante for Aileen’s insecurities which lead her further into the dramas and obsessions that seem inherent with the level of success achieved by Maramar. More problems and suspicions arise when Aileen’s shaman and therapist Kira, who is distrusted and disliked by most, disappears.
Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree is told mainly from Derry’s third person perspective. It’s to David Ahern’s credit that the writing, engaging and enjoyable in itself, is also extremely visual and witty, with a smoothly flowing narrative. Diverse and colourful characters are fabulously realised. My favourites, Derry who is feeling conflicting emotions about her role as Madam Tulip and Bruce…who wouldn’t want a friend like Bruce.
The sensation of becoming Madam Tulip was familiar but more intense than Derry had ever experienced. She had the strangest feeling that Derry O’Donnell, actress—the person whose body and brain she had inhabited all her life—had evaporated.