Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier

Synopsis: With planning the town's annual Halloween Party, the drought wreaking havoc on her garden, and her brood of four children, Lucy Stone's got her hands full this fall- As the air turns crisp and the trees blaze red and gold in the tiny town of Tinker's Cove, Maine, a newcomer arrives who seems to suit the Halloween season. Diana Ravenscroft has just opened Solstice, a charming little shop featuring candles, crystals, jewelry, and psychic readings. But after an unnervingly accurate reading by Diana, Lucy starts to get more than a little spooked- Then there's the dead body Lucy finds, way up on one of the old logging roads behind her house. The deceased is identified as Malcolm Malebranche, a seemingly harmless magician who worked at children's birthday parties. When it turns out that Diana knew the murder victim, Ike Stoughton, a prominent local businessman, starts a campaign against Diana, blaming -the witch- for everything from the unseasonal dry spell to his wife's illness and his pumpkins- lack of plumpness. But Lucy's not so sure that Ike himself is innocent. Still, as the town Halloween party approaches, Lucy's more concerned about the costume competition, pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin, and baking three dozen orange cupcakes and Beastly Bug cookies. But as the October moon rises, a killer plans a lethal celebration of his own-and Lucy's the guest of honor-

My Thoughts: I've been taking a sabbatical from mysteries for a while now and, in the past, I've loved the cozy sub-genre to pieces, including the Lucy Stone series. Before my time away of all that is murderous, I must have read 8...maybe 9 of the previous Lucy Stone books. I truly enjoyed them. So, what happened? Did I get punk'd by the Suck Fairy? Did this series really suck all along and I never realized it or was this just a horrible book? At this point I'm just not sure....

What Worked: Um...I got nothing. Well, I kind of liked the dog and maybe the couple cats the appeared through out the book. Other than that...yep. Nothing

What Didn't Work: First off the synopsis above was on the inner flap of the dust jacket. Meaning the publishing company thought this was a very good description of the contents. Not so much. For one thing this book starts in April (minus the prologue that is time line ambiguous). What? I thought Lucy was overly concerned about the Halloween festivities. Well, she was but not until the last couple of chapters in the book. This book is not about Halloween at all but the persecution of the Wicca religion and those who practice it.

The main character, Lucy Stone, is not charming whatsoever. She flip flops between sticking up for Diana, who is a witch and a practicing Wiccan and making horribly insultive and prejudistic comments like...
Lucy: "Samhain?"
Diana: "It's our new year, but you know it as Halloween."
Lucy: "Oh," said Lucy. "I suppose you'll all be riding around on broomsticks."

I suppose that if Lucy was known for her wry and sarcastic sense of humor or Meier had included some indicators to suggest she were kidding (ie: Lucy said jokingly) this might not have rubbed me the wrong way but as it's written this statement is an insult to Wicca.

The entire portrayal of the Wicca religion actually rubbed me the wrong way. I am no expert on Wicca but do know a little. The book rang false in it's portrayal from Lucy (who knows NOTHING of it) convincing Diana to perform her spell at 9pm instead of midnight because "Nine is three thrice." "The power of your spell will be magnified three times.", to the spell being cast (an annoying rhyming ditty), to an entire coven ignoring the first rule of Wicca "An it harm none do what ye will".  Basically, play nice and don't harm others.

Oh Yeah, this Didn't Work Either: The Mystery? What mystery? Sure someone died. Sure someone is vandalizing Diana's property (which is never solved by the way.) The murder is ultimately solved but not by Lucy, who I would have thought would have a hand in it. No, all she did was stumble along and point fingers at people and talking about Diana behind her back. Oh  and almost get killed because she was too stupid to notice her gas gauge was low. Anyway, back to that non-mystery. What really torqued my tonsils about this book was that there was no way to actually solve this mystery. There were no real clues with only one viable suspect and a couple vaguely suspicious ones. Too many of the characters had a 'weird' moment making them all suspect a bit. Now one or two character weirdnesses I normally would say "Hey, Doomis over there is actin' a bit shady. I bet he set fire to that nice magician back in April." but I couldn't do that to everyone without having to forfeit my Mystery Book Lovers club card, besides I love the decoder ring too much to even chance a false "Aha! Mr Green in the Library with the Revolver" moment.

In a Nutshell: I really didn't like this book (in case you missed all of my "This book Sucked" points up above). I'm regretting reading it. I'm thinking of never going to Tinker's Cove with Leslie Meier again. I'm actually thinking of boycotting Maine all together despite their lovely lobsters. Man I hope the entire cozy sub-genre is not ruined for me because of this book.....

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