Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hex Marks The Spot - Madelyn Alt

Hex Marks The Spot
A Bewitching Mystery
Madelyn Alt
Berkley Prime Crime


Six months ago, Maggie O’Neill lived in a world composed of only what she could see and touch. Then she went to work for Felicity (Liss) Dow at her shop, Enchantments, selling antiques and mystical items to those who understand what they’re buying, and all of that changed. Now Maggie is a fledgling empath. Although she’s feeling deeply ambivalent about her gift, she is uncomfortably aware that the spiritual energy surrounding the area is becoming increasingly chaotic. She constantly feels as if she’s waiting for something to happen.

The annual farmer’s market and craft bazaar signals the end of winter and the start of spring. This year, Maggie and Felicity attend together, in search of locally made items for Enchantments. They encounter Eli Yoder, a wood craftsman and part of the local Amish community. His pieces are expertly made, and plain in style, with one exception: an armoire with elaborate carvings that look almost Celtic, and brimming with color. Eli constructed the cabinet, but Luc Metzger, from the Pennsylvania Amish, created the carvings and painting.

Not long after seeing the gorgeous armoire, Maggie meets Luc’s wife, Hester, at a food stand. Hester’s eyes are dark as she warns Maggie of some vague danger to come, calling her ‘one who sees.’ Later in the day, Maggie and Liss see Luc riding his bicycle away from the market after telling his worried wife that he’s got a job to do. That night, Luc doesn’t return home, and the men go in search of him. Sadly, they find his body alongside the road, where he was apparently bludgeoned to death.

In this third installment of the series – following THE TROUBLE WITH MAGIC and A CHARMED DEATH – the murder mystery plays second fiddle to the development of Maggie’s character and her struggles with accepting her paranormal gift. While that might be a problem for a less talented author, it works beautifully here. It’s fascinating to accompany Maggie on her journey; even the bumps along the way serve to make her a more realistic character.

The supporting cast of characters is deep and widely varied, from Goth teenagers to stoic Amish farmers; each one is individual and unique. A secondary plot involving Boiler Room Bertie, the library’s resident ghost, who seems to be more restless than usual, adds an extra interest to the novel. Newcomers to the series will have no problems jumping in at this point, but I’d highly recommend reading the first two books for the sheer entertainment. This series is perfect for mystery buffs who like more than a bit of the paranormal, or for paranormal fans who enjoy mysteries.

Rating: 8
December 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21870-9 (paperback)


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