Reviews of Too Far Under
Reviewed by Ellen Feld

April 2011
Within the first few pages of Too Far Under, the reader is
introduced to Mirabel Townes, learns of her family, her
association with Scientology, advocacy for saving prairie dogs
and fighting big business. We also witness her murder at the
hand (literally) of an unknown assailant. From this brief,
fast-paced prologue, the reader is now hooked and can't wait to
learn the identity of the killer.
The police rule Mirabel’s drowning accidental, but her three
children suspect foul play. The youngest of the children,
Angelica, is an “Indigo child” (said to be “psychologically and
spiritually gifted”), and has repeatedly told her older sister Lacey
that their mother’s death was not an accident. When the three
siblings can’t get their father and his overbearing girlfriend to
take them seriously, they turn to Dr. Cleo Sims, who teaches a
class in paranormal psychology at the local college.
Cleo is quite reluctant to help the Townes children as she doesn’t
want to risk her position at the school. Many of her colleagues
think her class is quackery so she wants to stay under the radar
as much as possible and avoid any trouble. Lacey Townes is a
student in Cleo’s class and knows about the professor’s
“Contact Project” – a chamber that allows a person to speak with
the dearly departed. She’s convinced that Cleo can help them
find the truth behind their mother’s drowning.
After much pleading, begging, and cajoling by the children, as
well as visits from both Tyler, her surfer dude ghost, and the
ghost of a beautiful young women, Cleo agrees to help solve
Mirabel’s murder. Before she begins to look for clues, Cleo isn’t
convinced that Mirabel’s death was murder, but it doesn’t take
her long to dig up quite a few people who would have benefitted
from Mirabel's demise. There are the Scientologists who
suspected that Mirabel was going to change her will and leave
them out of it, a husband and girlfriend who were having financial
problems, a drug dealing ex-friend, a land developer whose
project was stymied because of Mirabel’s “save the prairie dogs”
activities, and a women who was after her father’s money. They
all had motive and means, but which one did it? To add to Cleo’s
troubles, she needs to find a new nursing home for her mother
within a matter of weeks, and the art gallery where her boyfriend
Pablo exhibits some of his work (and Mirabel was a silent co-
owner) seems to be having problems.
Cleo is hard pressed to find the killer before he/she goes after
her and the Townes children. Tyler, the surfing ghost fades in
and out from time to time to help, but his clues, wrapped in
surfer lingo, are so cryptic that Cleo is usually left more confused
after one of his visits.
This is the second book in the Cleo Sims mystery series (Too
Near the Edge is the first) and while I have not read the first, I
had no trouble following along. As mentioned at the start of this
review, the first few pages, with Mirabel’s murder, drew me in
immediately. The rest of the book did not disappoint as the
author did a wonderful job of keeping the story moving, while
developing characters who were interesting and believable. Cleo
was a very likeable protagonist, who struggled to help her
mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, while also juggling a
boyfriend who was afraid of commitment, and a boss who was
not very supportive. All this while helping three frightened kids
learn the truth surrounding their mother’s death. While Tyler,
the ghost who only spoke in surfer lingo (“you’ll blow it if you
miss the good wave”), got a little annoying at times – the tightly
knit cast of characters worked well and made this book a very
enjoyable read.
Quill says: If you like your mysteries mixed with a little
paranormal activity and lots of intrigue, check out this new
series featuring Dr. Cleo Sims and her surfer ghost friend
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt

March 11, 2011
When Grief Therapist Cleo Sims is contacted by a young lady
who believes her mother was murdered, she finds herself being
pulled into a complex mystery that also could put her career and
her life in jeopardy.  In spite of this and ignoring warnings from
others she finds herself unable to say, “No.”   The suspected
murder victim, Mirabel Townes, was a wealthy woman who had a
cheating husband, a prairie dog hating land developer angry at
her, and an involvement with a cult-like religion.  Mirabel had a
lot of people around her with a great deal of interest in her
money.  Many people were also very interested in whether or
not there was another will written shortly before her death that
might either include them in it, or cut them out of it.
When she is found dead in her hot tub, the only people who
seem to show any concern about what might have happened
are her overly emotional daughter Lacey and her Indigo child
daughter Angelica.  They contact Cleo because they know that
she runs a program called Contact Project which can help people
contact those that are deceased.  Cleo has ethical issues with
this because although she is wise beyond her years, Angelica is
only ten years old and her father, who is heavily involved with
his greedy mistress, refuses to grant permission for Cleo to
work with Angelica.
Figuring out ways to circumvent the system, Lacey gets very
creative.  However, her creativity lands them all in great danger.  
As Cleo gets pulled further into this mystery, there is another
suspicious death in the Townes’ family.  Her involvement with
this case also causes her best friend and her boyfriend to be
frustrated with her. Apparently they are still recovering from
when Cleo put her life in danger in her first mystery, “Too Near
the Edge.” In addition to her involvement with this case, Cleo is
also dealing with commitment issues from her boyfriend, and
stress from an upcoming closure of her grandmother’s nursing
home. In spite of this, the lure of this mystery compounded
with the opportunity to involve the Contact Project and interest
in Angelica’s gifts makes it impossible for Cleo to stay
I totally enjoyed reading Too Far Under. The author Lynn
Osterkamp obviously uses a great deal of her personal
experience in working as a social worker and living in Boulder,
Colorado, where the story takes place, to make the story seem
more real.  The additional paranormal touches with the Contact
Project and the gifts of an Indigo child add just enough of a
paranormal touch to make the story extraordinary.   I highly
recommend this novel, and look forward to finding out what
Osterkamp has in store for Cleo in her next novel.