New mysteries

I am lucky to have access to Galley Proofs of new books through NetGalley.  I have just finished two mystery books that are part of new series.

Knock on Wood by Linda O. Johnston is set in Destiny, CA, not far from L.A.  This town is all about superstitions and when the deputy mayor (who constantly “knocks on wood”) is found murdered, there is no shortage of murder suspects. The intrepid amateur sleuth, Rory, runs the Lucky Dog Boutique, selling items and charms that deal with superstitions about dogs. When her best friend becomes a suspect in the murder, Rory begins to investigate.  It’s a good plot and very difficult to pick out the murderer as the clues are low key and can be missed if the reader doesn’t pay attention.  The characters are well developed and likable.  The only two things that bothered me are that Rory never seems to be in her store – she leaves it all the time to do her sleuthing and the overload of superstitions that dot the text.  It became too much for me to read them all and I would skim over them in order to pick up the plot line.  I will try another title in this series and hope that the superstitions are fewer in number.

Defending the Dead by Sheila Connolly is a rather strange mystery. Abby Kimball and her boyfriend Ned are both able to see dead people to whom they are related.  When Abby visits Salem, she is swept into a courtroom where a trial of some of the witches of Salem is being held.  She decides that she must trace her family back to the Salem Witch Trials and see if she can figure out WHY the witch hysteria happened and what caused it to flourish for just over a year.

Is is clear that the Salem Witch Trials is personal for Connolly. She includes an afterward that explains this story is based upon her own family history.  However, for this reader, there was too much of the historical information about Salem and the history of the area.  I really wanted some kind of “mystery”, not a fictionalized account of what might have happened in Salem.

I liked Abby and Ned and their weird talent but I hope for a real plot in future series titles.

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