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MURDER UNDER A MYSTIC MOON
by Yasmine Galenorn
Berkley Prime Crime, January 2005
288 pages
$5.99
ISBN: 0425200027


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Emerald O'Brien is trying to concentrate on making her tea room profitable and raise her children, taking a break from the hectic events of GHOST OF A CHANCE and LEGEND OF THE JADE DRAGON. Then Jimbo Warren, one of the outlaw bikers who lives outside town, calls her to help find his friend Scar. Em is also the town tarot reader and psychic, and Jimbo is starting to worry that Scar might be dead.

He's right. Em finds the body, ripped to shreds. The sheriff, anxious to close the case, orders the coroner to call it a mountain lion attack. The obedient coroner does, but that doesn't stop the town from whispering that the Klakatat monster is walking again.

A second horrible death shows that some sort of monster is on the loose. Em, trying to scry for help, feels that something very ancient has awakened, but is it necessarily what's doing the killing? And can she find whatever it is with the obnoxious George telling the whole town that she's a fake and he's the real psychic?

The tensions between George and Em were my favorite parts of the book; unfortunately, he is a subplot that is quickly put aside. The main plot deals heavily with mysticism of the tarot, crystal ball, dreamtime, and aura type which will be familiar to any new ager or pagan. Lines like "his energy is slimy" and "the other world had stepped in and we had big red targets painted on our auras" are common.

If there were skeptics in town, they're gone by the time this book starts; while some characters might argue over who does or doesn't have psychic powers, nobody thinks that such powers don't exist. Galenorn's book assumes that we are equal believers by including instructions on how to make a dreaming pillow charm after the story.

I find it hard to get excited over MURDER UNDER A MYSTIC MOON, although there are no flaws I can point to. The puzzle works, the mysticism is consistent and avoids pretentiousness (Em has her flaws and her limitations). The characters are solid and believable. The potpourri mix at the end even sounds like it would smell very pleasant. This would be a solid, interesting read if you're in the mood for a mystic mystery with overtones of native American mythology. I just never got into the right mood for powers older than mankind and spirit warriors.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, January 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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