Tag Archives: mystery

History, Mystery, and a touch of Romance

fifthpetalThe story opens in Salem, Massachusetts Halloween 1989. A group of women is gathered together to consecrate the ground where the hangings of the accused witches in 1692 took place. Then suddenly they are attacked. There are 2 survivors. One is a 5-year-old young girl who was hidden by one of the women in some briars. The other is one of the women that the girl calls Auntie Rose aka Rose Whelan – the leader of the event.

Callie, the young girl, has no recollection of the event, but she has a scar on the palm of her hand in the shape of a rose from holding onto the rosary that Auntie Rose gave her so tightly while she was hidden. Rose appears to have lost her mind as a result of the attack and claims that it was a banshee that attacked and killed the young women collectively known as ‘The Goddesses.’

Salem, Massachusetts 2014, 25 years later to the day, Rose is again implicated in an attack. This time on a young boy – a bit of a hoodlum. There are no marks on his body, but she was present when he died. She claims the banshee did it again.

John Rafferty, chief of police of Salem, finds himself in a position where he believes that Rose had nothing to do with either incident. He decides he must reopen the cold case of The Goddesses’ murders.

Most of the book is from Callie’s point of view, but a fair amount is also from Rafferty’s point of view. Callie starts to have vivid dreams of what happened in the past and shares these with Rafferty. Meanwhile, Rafferty goes through legal channels and old evidence trying to solve the cold case while he waits for a cause of death of the boy.

It’s mostly Callie’s story. And she gets involved with local old families. One member of which is responsible for triggering some of her most vivid dreams.

There is history, mystery and a touch of romance in The Fifth Petal. I read the first book in this series, The Lace Reader, a while back. It was a good book, but not as good as The Fifth Petal. Brunonia Barry’s writing seems to have improved in the time between the two books. You can read The Fifth Petal without having read The Lace Reader and still enjoy it. Truthfully, I remembered little of the first book. Towner and Rafferty were both characters in the first book and have roles in this one as well – Rafferty a little more so than Towner.

There are some things that you might consider either paranormal or magical realism elements. There is the ability to see the future by reading lace that is mentioned. And there is the way that Towner, Callie, and some of the other people seem to know things before they happen or are said by people. There is Callie’s use of musical therapy for healing. And finally, there is the question of the banshee. Is she real?

Overall, it’s a good book. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It’s well written. The mystery is good. The inclusion of the history is a plus. The author tells some of what is real vs pure fiction in the acknowledgments. I may have enjoyed it more because of the history in it. The 1692 events in Salem have always interested me. I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a few possibly paranormal elements and a touch of romance. If you like Salem and its history, then you will enjoy it even more.

The Fifth Petal was released January 24, 2017 from Crown.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


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Discreet Retrieval Agency takes on new cases

teetotaledLola Woodby and her faithful companion and detective partner Berta are in desperate need of funds. They are living in Lola’s deceased husband’s love nest, but the rent will be due soon. They have placed an advertisement in the newspaper and agree they  must take the first job offered to their Discreet Retrieval Agency. Lucky for them along comes Grace Whiddle’s mother who wants to get a hold of Grace’s diary.

Lola and Berta go to a health farm to try and obtain the diary. Lola’s former brother-in-law is on staff there. They try everything they can think of to get the diary without getting caught including climbing in and out of windows like a monkey. The same night they are after the diary, Grace’s future mother-in-law is murdered at the health farm. Mrs. Whiddle fires Lola and Berta, but soon they have another case. They are hired to solve the murder by the husband of the victim. While it’s more dangerous than they would like, Lola and Berta agree they need the money desperately. Adventures follow as they work to solve the mystery.

Teetotaled is a good period piece cozy mystery. It takes place in the 1920s. There is a lot of humor and a touch of romance to go with the dangerous situations the women find themselves in. The plot moves along at a good rate.

Berta and Lola are fully realized characters. Many of the others are developed to a lesser degree, but their page time is shorter. Ralph is also back in this mystery providing most of the romantic interactions, but not all.

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a well written historical cozy. It’s good light reading. I enjoyed watching Lola and Berta as they work to solve the mysteries that cross their paths. This is the second book in the Discreet Retrieval Agency series. It was released October 4, 2016 from Minotaur Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Victim or killer?

quickandthedeadAlex Quick was once a Detective Inspector. Now after a failed marriage to another policeman and a miscarriage, she has turned her efforts to making art books with her partner Helena Drummond. When Helena fails to show up for an important meeting with a publisher, Alex goes to her house and finds a woman rather viciously murdered in Helena’s bed. Was Helena the killer or possibly the intended victim?

With Helena being a suspect, Alex sets out to prove her innocence, but instead finds that she knows less about her friend than she thought she did. Alex uses her contacts among the police to aid her. She also acquires a bookseller as a sort of sidekick for some of her investigations.

Susan Moody does a good job building suspense as the novel progresses. Still it is occasionally slow in parts. She kept me guessing as to the identity of the killer. Every time I thought I knew who it was, something would happen to disturb that notion. My only complaints with the mystery are that I felt there needed to be a little more foreshadowing concerning the identity of the killer and that the book ended sort of abruptly. As a result, I give this book 3.5 stars instead of 4 stars. It’s a good book, but it needed a little more towards the end. I would still recommend it for anyone who likes British mysteries. Bear in mind the initial crime scene is described rather brutally, but it is not dwelt upon in detail through the rest of the book

Quick and the Dead is due out May 1, 2016 from Severn House Publishers. This is the first book in a projected series.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


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