Series: A Mind For Murder Mystery #2
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Published by Berkley on 7 August 2012
Pragmatic psychologist Liz and her Occult Studies Professor boyfriend Nick are back and this time investigating Santeria. A joyous 60th wedding anniversary goes terribly wrong when the husband Paco is shot and killed. His widow Lucia is so overcome with grief and anger she places a hex on the community. The hex seems to work as accidents escalate and soon Lucia’s neighbours turn on her. Liz and Nick decide to solve the crime in order to keep Lucia safe.
Liz is more rounded in this novel even though most of the revelations come from how she interacts with others. She retains her disbelief in the occult and is fairly critical of those who believe that a hex can hurt them but finds herself wearing a hex ward bracelet to keep Lucia happy. We see Liz at work which allows her to showcase her skills but acts as a useful plot device to feed her extra information about the case. Liz is involved in a possible ethical breach and I didn’t really like how she dealt with it as she is supposed to be a professional. Despite her father and brother being cops, she still relies very little on the police force e.g. when she thinks a man has gone missing she decides to break into his place and she confronts a gang leader without proper backup. Nick is still the font of all knowledge and causes Liz no end of stress by suggesting she move in with him. He has a large network of friends and acquaintances that can be relied on to advance the plot. Some of the characters are still fairly stereotypical and that was a shame.
The strength of this novel was the way Santeria was presented. It would have been easy, but obviously not fair, to lambast the whole religion given the actions of Lucia. Instead we get to see different a diverse range of opinions and find out a bit about the history of it. More information would have been nice. The mystery itself was fairly solid even though some of the baddies were fairly obvious. Gentle humour helps to carry the novel along.
I enjoyed this novel and was pleasantly surprised that controversial issues such as ethics and mental health were raised within the confines of a cozy mystery. Liz’s relationship with Nick is of the ‘two steps forward, one step back’ variety and I want to find out what happens between them in the next novel. All in all, it’s a fun, light read.