This novella relies heavily on the conundrum of how a medium — channeling a man who made a point of debunking charlatans and frauds — could convince a skeptic that he is who he says he is. It also references out of print mystery novels. With that kind of logical knot, it’s basically Connie Willis distilled.
I wasn’t a fan of Rob and his whole “but she’s too beautiful to be doing this stuff” attitude really got on my nerves — it’s far too close to the “but she’s too hot to be in engineering” (or insert STEM job of your choice) attitude. But after a lot of his being dense and arguing weakly that impersonating a debunker made sense in a twisted way, the plot of the novella grew on me, and I thought the ending was cute. You don’t need to know who Mencken was or even recognize his name. I sure didn’t, although the Scopes trial twigged, naturally.
The thee/thou usage criticism was spot on and it even started getting ridiculous. You’d think that even if she were picking randomly, she’d still get it right more often than she did. The start of the book could have used some more work on its charlatan lingo; I think that would have helped draw me in faster.
I read this in order to donate the pages read to the booklikes-opoly Jail Library. The print version is continually listed at 99 pages, so I’m going with that even though I read the ebook.