Book Review: Rituals, a Fay Longchamp Mystery by Mary Anna Evans

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A Faye Longchamp Mystery

Mary Anna Evans

Poisoned Pen Press


275  pages

Genre: Mystery

Award winning author Mary Anna Evans is back with Rituals, her eighth novel featuring archeologist Faye Longchamp.

Faye and her adopted daughter Amande are working together in Rosebower, New York. The tiny rural town is filled with spiritualists, magic and fortunetellers. It is as common to have conversations with the dead as it is with the living in Rosebower.

The Longchamps are not there to have their future read,  they are digging into the past. They were hired to organize the tiny historical museum in Rosebower. This includes going through boxes of undocumented, unorganized artifacts. The town has ties to the women’s rights movement; and the girls are hoping to find something in the museum to confirm it. Meanwhile, the man that hired them has some interesting ideas about “artifacts” he has on display. He really wants Faye to confirm flying saucers are carved in on one of them, proving that visitors from space came to town.

While working, Faye and Amande become friends with elderly sisters, Tilda and Myrna Armistead. When the sisters invite them for dinner and an opportunity to commune with the dead, Faye is unable to resist. Later that evening, Tilda drives to the B&B where they are staying, mumbles a few disturbing phrases and dies in Faye’s arms as her home burns to the ground. This was no accident, but who would want to murder one of the most revered members of the community and burn her cherished home to the ground?

Faye digs deeper into the mystery and finds suspicious activity everywhere. Suspects include a developer that wants Tilda’s land, her estranged daughter, her light-fingered son-in-law, a writer in town to expose the locals as frauds and the grandson of the local healer that is in town to take care of her after a stroke.

The intricate puzzle of this mystery is layered with twists and turns. Just when I thought I knew the killer’s identity, the next page had me second-guessing. This book is more than a great mystery, Ms. Evans weaves beautiful thoughts and phrases into the story that will stay with you long after the murderer is caught. You do not often find beautiful prose in a mystery novel, which makes it all the richer when you do.

Tilda speaks one of my favorite lines, “Why else do we live, except to love other people?” Antonia writes another: “Magic is what you believe it to be. So is life.”

This is my first Faye Longchamp Mystery, but it isn’t confusing to read as a stand-alone novel. I’m jumping into this series with both feet without any background on the characters and loved them immediately. Their depth and personalities were evident from the first pages. I’m adding the previous seven to my list.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

Book Review: Now You See It by Jane Tesh

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Now You See It

Jane Tesh

Poisoned Pen Press


230 pagesNow you see it

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Mystery

Camden’s renowned singing voice is not the only thing missing in the latest book in the Grace Street Mystery Series. Randall is hired to find a missing diamond bracelet for a local socialite. Then a priceless magic box once owned by Harry Houdini disappears, plunging Camden and Randall knee deep in mysterious world of local illusionists when they attempt to find it.

Fuel is added to the fire because the Finch brothers were holding a contest involving the box, which offers a piece from their magic collection to the person who wins. An ongoing rivalry among the magicians also hinders the search for the Houdini relic. Then one of the magicians winds up dead, and Randall’s girlfriend Kary goes undercover as a magician’s assistant to help him solve the case.

Randall has more on his mind than finding the lost items and solving a murder. His personal life is more stressful than his PI business. Kary will not marry him even though she loves him because they cannot agree on something very important. Kary wants children and Randall cannot get over the accidental death of his daughter, Lindsey. Pictures of her break his heart, and he recently received a DVD with Lindsey’s last dance recital on it that he cannot bring himself to watch.

Cam has finally decided to pop the question to his longtime girlfriend Ellin but literally does not have the voice to ask her. He is afraid she will turn him down. Shelia Kirk, the wife of a new sponsor, has taken over Ellin’s show and office leaving behind chaos and craziness.  The forceful woman has some crazy new ideas for the Psychic Service Network TV station and Ellin is not happy.

All of the elements of this book come together magically by the last page. It was fun to see how each part of the separate, yet connected plot came to a satisfying conclusion. It is fun to learn some little known facts about Houdini and magicians in general

I liked Tesh’s characters in Mixed Signals. I loved them in Now You See It. Maybe I knew them better, or maybe their vulnerability had me pulling for them to solve the mystery and overcome their personal demons to find happiness.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

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