Friday, July 05, 2013

TARNISHED AND TORN by Juliet Blackwell (Berkley)

Juliet Blackwell is a pseudonym, but there's nothing pseudo about her paranormal mysteries. Although paranormal mysteries have twists that most crime fiction don't, usually there's a sleuth with special abilities. In Blackwell's books, there's a further twist because there IS a protagonist with witchy abilities, but there are also a bunch of other witches, male and female. 

The setting is San Francisco and there probably isn't a city that has more quirky characters. The protagonist is Lily Ivory, owner of a popular vintage clothing store. Off Lily goes to a gem show, in search of antique jewelry for her store. It turns out not to be that simple because she meets Griselda, a vendor at the gem show, who gives her faint, vague signals about something she can't describe. Lily wonders if Griselda is a fellow practicing witch, but about the time she decides that's probably the case, Lily finds Griselda murdered. There's no doubt it's murder because the way in which she died is the way witches were put to death centuries earlier during the infamous witch hunts. Pressing!! I'll leave you to read the book to discover this awful way of dying.
Lily was brought up by her grandmother and hasn't seen her father in years, but wouldn't you know that he turned up during this time, shocking Lily into reliving painful memories and wondering about her father's activities. This was certainly a blast from the past, and although she wanted to talk to him, she was fairly sure that he didn't appear at this time just to get to know her. He is a powerful witch himself and pitiful person that he is, he begs Lily to help him. He obviously doesn't deserve it, but Lily is determined to clear his name and solve a murder that's muddy with emotions and people and all sorts of witchy characters. 
During the process of trying to solve the mystery of Griselda's death, the strands of many peoples' lives are intertwined and it's up to Lily to tease out the ones that will help resolve this horrible murder. Many paths seem to have potential but turn out to be dead ends. Even those are very interesting and create the plot and subplots. Somewhere along the way, a former boyfriend shows up and Lily is drawn to him again—or yet.
The book is entertaining and even informative, if you want to delve into the many facets of paranormal abilities. It's infinitely fascinating to contemplate the limitless potential and unusual qualities of humankind. The reality of the invisible world is there for us to question—and maybe even begin to answer.
Blackwell is an anthropologist who has studied systems of spirituality, magic, and health across cultures and throughout history. Her credentials for witchcraft are apparent as she weaves the many unusual facts into her mysteries.
Read her and then look for her other series. One series is written with her sister. Interesting author!

—Dian Esterly

FTC Disclosure—This book was provided by the publisher.

No comments: