on July 26, 2016
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As the Summer Solstice approaches in idyllic Edindale, Illinois, attorney Keli Milanni isn't feeling the magic. She's about to land in a cauldron of hot water at work. Good thing she has her private practice to fall back on--as a Wiccan. She'll just have to summon her inner Goddess and set the world to rights. . .
Midsummer Eve is meant for gratitude and celebration, but Keli is not in her typically upbeat mood. The family of a recently deceased client is blaming her for the loss of a Shakespearean heirloom worth millions, and Keli's career may be on the line. With both a Renaissance Faire and a literary convention in town, Edindale is rife with suspicious characters, and the intrepid attorney decides to tap into her unique skills to crack the case. . .
But Keli weaves a tangled web when her investigation brings her up-close and personal with her suspects--including sexy Wes Callahan, her client's grandson. The tattooed bartender could be the man she's been looking for in more ways than one. As the sun sets on the mystical holiday, Keli will need just a touch of the divine to ferret out the real villain and return Edindale, and her heart, to a state of perfect harmony. . ..
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Wicca, Shakespeare, theft, and family intrigue make a bewitching brew in Midsummer Night’s Mischief, the first book in Jennifer David Hesse’s Wiccan Wheel Mystery series. Hesse blends her ingredients with a light touch that is sure to cast a spell over any cozy mystery fan.
Heroine and attorney Keli Minalli is easy to like, though I found myself shaking my head over some of her choices. She’s compassionate and intuitive, but also impetuous and occasionally a bit reckless, both in her social life and her pursuit of answers. She’s not as intrepid as Nancy Drew, but she has a decided streak of independence and “do-it-myself” going on, despite her reliance on her law-school friend and sidekick Farrah (for help) and her Wiccan friend Mila (for guidance and advice.)
Keli needs both help and guidance, though, after a new client dies the day after making her will—and four days after discovering a rare Shakespeare folio worth millions. When the folio disappears after the client’s wake, the suspect pool is both too big and too small: all of the dead woman’s near relatives knew of its existence, as did the appraiser, a professor or two, and all of Keli’s colleagues in the legal firm where she works. More than a few of them have either a passion for Shakespeare or a need for money, or both. With Keli’s own job on the line and the police doing very little investigating, it’s up to Keli to identify the thief and hopefully recover the folio.
Complicating her attempts to solve the mystery, Keli is drawn to two potential suspects: one of her colleagues, Jeremy, and (even more strongly) her client’s eldest grandson, Wes. As things heat up between Keli and Wes, the circumstantial evidence against him also mounts. Are Keli’s instincts sending her the right messages?
I read Midsummer Night’s Mischief in a single sitting, eager to find out whodunnit and why. As I indicated above, there is no dearth of suspects, and Hesse paces Keli’s discoveries well without revealing the true culprit until very near the end of the book. I’ll be honest: while I suspected the actual culprit, I also suspected at least one other person equally. Right up until the final reveal, I still entertained some uneasiness about one or two others besides my top two suspects. Well done, Ms. Hesse, for keeping me guessing!
Many cozy series are written around a theme or interest, the most common being food, crafts, or light paranormal elements. In this case, the theme is Wicca.* Hesse presents Keli’s Wiccan beliefs and practices with respect, but leaves it up to the reader to decide whether Keli’s spells are effective or simply wishful thinking. One potential point of conflict for future books is that Keli is a closeted Wiccan; she fears that if her beliefs were known, it could cost her her job and some of her friends. And of course, she may be right, but I also suspect that hiding that aspect of her life may not remain possible. (It’s probably not healthy, either.) It will be interesting to see how the situation develops over the course of the series.
Of course, as a theater major and Shakespeare lover, I delighted in all the Shakespeare references and quotes. All in all, I had a lot of fun with Midsummer Night’s Mischief, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series.
*Just to be clear, we’re not talking evil witches here, like the ones in Macbeth, but rather a neo-pagan religion which emphasizes peace and harmony with nature.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway below to win one of two print copies of Midsummer Night’s Mischief!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Summer Vacation 2016
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2016