Series: Family Fortune Mystery #2
Published by Berkley on 7/01/14
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
Also in this series: A Fright to the Death, An Unhappy Medium
Also by this author: A Fright to the Death, An Unhappy Medium
Leaving a traumatic police career behind, Clyde Fortune has returned to her seemingly quiet hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan. In spite of the psychic powers of its residents, there’s no telling what trouble is brewing in this burg…
The highlight of this year's fall festival in Crystal Haven is a bonfire with a witch’s cauldron resting over it. Clyde’s best friend, Diana, leads a ritual to divine the future, but it seems no one foresees that one of their own will drop dead—or that Diana will be a prime suspect.
Clyde already has her hands full with her eccentric family, runaway nephew, and burgeoning secret romance with a hunky homicide detective. But after another coven member is attacked, Clyde suspects there’s a witch hunt afoot and focuses her psychic and sleuthing skills to clear her friend’s name and catch a killer.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Interview with Dawn Eastman
I’m very pleased to have Dawn Eastman with me today. Dawn is the author of the Family Fortune mysteries. Be Careful What You Witch For is the second book in the series. She’s here to chat about herself and her books. There’s also a giveaway, so make sure you scroll down after my review to see how you can enter to win a copy of Be Careful What You Witch For!
Lark (Bookwyrm’s Hoard): Hi, Dawn, and welcome to The Bookwyrm’s Hoard!
Dawn Eastman: Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here. I love that dragon on your home page.
Lark: Thanks! He’s the blog mascot, and one of several dragons (or bookwyrms!) on my shelves.In your biography, you mention loving Nancy Drew as a child, before moving on to Christie, Conan Doyle, and Stephanie Plum. When and how did you first start writing mysteries?
Dawn Eastman: Unfortunately, every story I write seems to have a dead body in it. Since I’m too chicken to even read much horror, it seemed best to stick to the mystery genre… I started writing seriously about ten years ago and had several unfinished projects. Then I joined a writing group and started focusing on mysteries because that is what I love to read. And because of the above mentioned issue.
Lark: Interesting! Which authors have had the most influence on you as a writer?
Dawn Eastman: I could give you a huge list of writers that I love to read and who have probably influenced my writing in ways I can’t even identify. However, the writers who have had the most influence on my day to day writing are the members of my critique group: Wendy Delsol, Kimberly Stuart, Kali Van Baale, Murl Pace, Chantal Corcoran, and Carol Spaulding.
Lark: That’s wonderful — and I’m sure they feel the same way about you!
What’s your writing style? Are you a plotter or a panster? And what about your writing habits and routines? Do you write “by hand” or on a computer? Do you have a specific space for writing?
Dawn Eastman: Definitely a plotter. I spend a month or more just working on the plot before I start writing, although that time is becoming streamlined now that the characters and the setting are better established in my mind. Plotting starts “by hand” because it’s too messy for the linear thinking of a word processor. Once I feel like I have the plot sketched out I set it up in a program called Scrivener and do most of my daily word counts in that program. It has a progress bar that I find ridiculously satisfying.
Lark: Scrivener is great, isn’t it? My daughter and another writing friend use it, too.
Dawn Eastman: I have an office with lots of bookshelves, a comfy chair, and a big table and do most of my writing there. I use a laptop, so sometimes I go elsewhere if the house is noisy (like in the summertime when kids are home from school).
Lark: Your main character, Clyde, is a cop on leave from a city police department, so she’s not as much of an amateur as many cozy mystery heroines are – which I find refreshingly different. How did you come up with her and her somewhat eccentric family?
Dawn Eastman: I originally saw her as a dog-walker who discovers a murder. The only witness is a dog. That became the set-up for Pall in the Family. As I got to know her a better, she kept arguing with her family about the family business. I liked the idea of a fact-based no-nonsense kind of person being part of a family who put more faith in intuition and psychic messages than solid evidence. It has led to a lot of conflict and humor in the books. I realized she was only a temporary dog walker and was running from a traumatic career situation. Also, it is obviously helpful for an amateur sleuth to have some sort of training or contacts with the police. I didn’t want her to be actively working as a police officer and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say I don’t think she’ll return to that job. She’ll need to figure out what she wants to do next.
Lark: I’m certainly enjoying Clyde — and her eccentric family! So far, the books in the series have involved psychics and Wiccans (witches). Have you ever experienced something that you couldn’t explain through normal means?
Dawn Eastman: I’m definitely not psychic, but I have had a few “feelings” in the past that warned me of danger. And a couple of times I knew when a friend was in danger. I have a relative who has made some accurate predictions about events in my life. As research for the series, I talked to a professional psychic who knew way too much about some past events for my comfort.
Lark: That must have been a bit disconcerting! If the Family Fortune mystery series had a playlist, what songs would be on it?
Dawn Eastman: This is such a hard question. My first thought is the theme from the old keystone cops films – especially when Clyde’s family gets involved. My son is a musician and my daughter and husband are music fanatics, so it’s difficult to admit that I don’t really think that way. I love music and listen to all kinds of music, but I don’t really use music to set a writing mood the way so many authors do. I listen to a lot of classical music while writing.
Lark: Finally, a few quick questions. Favorite beverage?
Lark: Another tea lover – hurray! Dream vacation site or activity?
Dawn Eastman:A hawk walk at an Irish castle. Or zip-lining with monkeys.
Lark: Oh, lovely, especially the first one! Favorite craft or hobby other than writing (or one you wish you had time to do)?
Dawn Eastman: Knitting
Lark: Me too! Favorite reading genre, other than mysteries?
Dawn Eastman: Historical fiction or those mash-ups of fantasy with historical like Deborah Harkness and Diana Gabaldon.
Lark: Harkness’s books are great! Please tell us one interesting or amusing thing no-one would never guess about you.
Dawn Eastman: I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek and love Dr. Who, Firefly, and Star Trek. When I was eight I wanted to be either an astronaut or a robotics engineer. That’s two things that sort of go together…
Lark: They do indeed. Thank you so much for stopping by to talk with me today! I hope we can all look forward to many more Family Fortune mysteries.
Dawn Eastman: Thank you! It was a pleasure.
Be Careful What You Witch For is a delightful, entertaining paranormal cozy mystery, with the emphasis on cozy. Crystal Haven and its residents, both psychic and Wiccan, provide a sometimes humorous, always interesting backdrop for Clyde’s crime-solving endeavors.
I like Clyde, who narrates the book; she’s someone I might enjoy being friends with. She loves her eccentric family even when they drive her nuts; she’s loyal to her friends; and she has a somewhat wry sense of humor. Her discomfort with her own psychic gifts is clearly going to be an ongoing issue and offers plenty of room for character development in future books. The other characters are also well-drawn, and most avoid becoming caricatures despite their quirkiness.
Clyde’s background as a policewoman means she knows something about detective work. She gets her inside information not from Mac, the police detective she’s dating, who would much prefer to keep her out of danger and out of his case, but from an old high school friend, now one of Crystal Haven’s town cops. Other good friends are always ready to help, as well, and Clyde’s wacky Aunt Vi, the pet psychic, fancies herself a detective, so Clyde has plenty of assistance — useful or not.
The plot works well and the pacing is good. The reader generally knows whatever Clyde knows, so it’s possible to solve the crime yourself if you’re paying attention — and focusing on the right clues, since there are also some red herrings. Thankfully, this isn’t one of those books where everyone hated the victim, but there are several suspects and several motives, not all of which are immediately apparent, so the unfolding mystery definitely kept my attention. Still, it’s the people in the book, particularly Clyde, Seth, and the rest of her family, who really won me over!
I had a hard time keeping track of the characters at first, in part because I hadn’t read the first book, but eventually I got them sorted out. A “cast of characters” list might have been helpful. I also felt that some of the transitions were a bit abrupt or unclear, and there were one or two scenes that might have benefited from more dialog and “showing” rather than simply telling the reader what was occurring, but those were few. Clyde’s narrative voice is engaging and there’s just enough description to set the scene without slowing things down unnecessarily. All in all, I enjoyed my visit to Crystal Haven, and I’ll definitely be back for the next installment!
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WIN a paperback copy of Be Careful What You Witch For!
June 30 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – Review, Giveaway
July 1 – Booklady’s Booknotes – Review
July 2 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – Review, Interview, Giveaway
July 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway
July 4 – off
July 5 – Books-n-Kisses – Review, Interview, Giveaway
July 6 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Giveaway
July 7 – A Chick Who Reads – Review, Interview
July 8 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Giveaway
July 9 – Community Bookstop – Review, Giveaway
July 10 – Bea’s Book Nook – Review, Giveaway
July 11 – deal sharing aunt – Review, Interview, Giveaway
July 12 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Guest Post
July 13 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – Review, Giveaway
July 14 – Chloe Gets A Clue – Interview
July 15 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Review
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Summer Vacation 2014
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2014
- Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge 2014