Monday, January 29, 2024

To Conjure a Killer by Clea Simon


Reviewed by Jeanne

Becca Colwin, witch detective, is walking home from her job at the New Age shop Charm and Cherish when she sees a kitten darting into the street.  Becca springs into action, chasing the kitten into an alley to rescue it—and finding a dead body in the process.  It’s not just any dead body either:  the deceased is Becca’s former boyfriend, Jeff. 

Of course, that’s when the police show up.

While Becca isn’t arrested, she is a person of interest in the slaying. After all, she was found standing over the body.  In order to clear her name, Becca is going to have to use all her powers, supernatural or otherwise, in order to solve the case.  This means she’s going to have to find out about the people in Jeff’s life and about the software program he was working on—one that people are saying could have been an electronic game changer.

Fortunately for Becca, she’s not the only one on the case.  Her three cats also have a vested interest in keeping her out of jail—and her cats are the ones with actual supernatural powers.

Nowadays, there are many mystery series with some otherworldly touches, but this series stands alone in that, unbeknownst to her, Becca’s cats are the ones with magic.  In fact, Becca’s belief that she has powers is due to luxury loving Harriet deciding to conjure up a more comfy pillow.  Harriet and Laurel, the two older cats, are more concerned that Becca bring home the cat food and attend to their every need, while Clara is devoted to Becca as her person and tries to help in every way she can.  The new kitten adds a layer of intrigue to the story as well:  is she just an ordinary cat or is she a witch cat as well?

The characters are well drawn.  Becca is an appealing protagonist, with her kind heart and empathetic nature. There are some intriguing supporting characters as well, especially the enigmatic Elizabeth, whose sister owns Charm and Cherish. The suspect gallery in this one is quite good.  But I have to say that the cats steal the show—as well they should.

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