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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review - Opal Fire

I found this "new-to-me" series at the Left Coast Crime Conference last spring.  I saved it for my October paranormal mystery marathon.  This series is being compared to Janet Evonovich's Stephanie Plum, so you may have heard of it.  I decided to start with the first book, although there are four in the series thus far.  See what you think.

Author: Barbra Annino

Copyright: December 2012 (Thomas & Mercer) 282 pgs

Series: 1st in Stacy Justice Mystery series

Sensuality: Some cursing

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Stacy Justice, small town newspaper reporter and hereditary witch.

Setting: Modern day, small town Amethyst, Illinois

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

The book opens with Stacy and her cousin Cinnamon caught inside
Cinnamon's bar, the Black Opal, when a fire breaks out. they make it out just in time, along with Stacy's Great
Dane, Thor.  When it is uncovered the fire was intentionally set and that her cousin may have been targeted, Stacy goes gangbusters to investigate -- in-spite her boyfriend's insistence to stay out of it.  But then her boyfriend is the Chief of police.  She could not have foreseen a decades old murder behind the fire and the danger she would face.

Stacy is also in a family where most of the women are witches.  Stacy has been very resistant towards learning the craft, but wants her grandmother and aunts to work magic when she needs it. That seemed conflicted, or a little spoiled - I'm not sure which.

Stacy Justice is a mixed bag. She is stubborn, bossy, confrontational, wise-cracking, and an all around handful. I managed to find a middle ground of neutral feelings towards the her, (although the bossy aspect got on my nerves), but I doubt most readers will be neutral. 
She is one of those characters you either love or hate. Cinnamon, cousin and best friend, could easily be on Jersey Shore with her attitude. Leo, boyfriend and chief of police, is a character I vacillated between sympathizing with and then wanting to smack him. He was bit of a stock-character.  Derek, photographer for the paper, gets off to a rough start with Stacy.  This character has some potential that I hope is utilized in subsequent books.  The witches in the family are known as the Geraghty Girls:  Birdie is the matriarch and Stacy's grandmother, then aunts Lolly, and Fiona.  They are a colorful, eccentric trio and were shining stars.

Amethyst, Illinois doesn't have a unique feel or vibe that I could pick up on.  Perhaps that will develop in the next novels.  Threats to Stacy come in various forms and keep the pace moving along at a fair clip.  A good dramatic confrontation with the killer was particularly well done.  The wrap-up presented a great twist to leave the reader anticipating the next novel.

This mystery has plenty of danger and a varied cast of colorful characters around an old murder that is threatening to expose a dormant killer.

Rating: Good - A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.


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