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by Madelyn Alt
Berkley, November 2007
256 pages
ISBN: 0425218708

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Maggie O'Neil has recently realized she's an empath, a person who feels other people's emotions and she is not comfortable with the gift. She works at a wonderful antique shop with a New Age theme called Enchantment that is owned by Felicity (Liss) Dow a woman who is a Wiccan. They both live in Stony Mill, Indiana, a community where there are a lot of Amish people. The small town is usually a lovely place to live, but recently a string of crimes have been committed there.

Maggie doesn't like being an empath or dealing with supernatural things, and she'd rather live a normal life with her boyfriend, Detective Tom Fielding, who is a very down to earth rational thinker who doesn't believe in anything beyond what he can see and prove. But ever since she has gotten this talent she realizes she must learn about it, if only to control the way it affects her.

When Maggie and Liss go to a crafts fair together, Liss is enchanted by a large armoire that they find was decorated by an Amish man named Luc Metzger. The designs are Hexes, but of an unusual design from the normal decorations of the Amish in that community. Luc is also unusual. He is an extremely good-looking man, even in his Amish plain outfit. Also unusual for a member of the Amish clan, Luc looks like he knows what effect he has on woman and he seems to like it. Maggie and every woman who looks at him find they have rather naughty thoughts. Even after Maggie meets Luc's wife, she finds herself thinking about him.

Unfortunately Liss doesn't win the piece of furniture at the auction but the two women have a nice time anyway, and Maggie buys treats for her family. Then Maggie finds out that later that night, Luc was murdered on a road near town. It's thought that he was a victim of a mugging gone wrong, but Maggie doesn't think so, especially when she finds a hex put up on a tree near the murder scene.

Tom, Maggie's boyfriend, is then promoted to be a Special Task Force investigator with Luc's murder at the top of the cases he has to solve. Even though Maggie shows him the hex sign, Tom is very unwilling to think that anything out of the norm is connected to the death. He is also unhappy that Maggie has any ideas about looking into the murder herself. He's worried for her safety but he is also annoyed when she brings up the subject of the supernatural or magic.

HEX MARKS THE SPOT has all the elements to make it a really good murder mystery cozy. Maggie is a likable and believable lead character, who is learning about her gift as she learns to believe in the paranormal. She is a fine companion for the readers who are also being introduced to new ideas and religions. She has a cop boyfriend, which helps her get into murder cases around town and she has a wonderful group of interesting friends, including Liss who could easily have a cozy series of her own.

But unfortunately for some reason, author Madelyn Alt pushed the murder mystery to the back of the book in importance and made most of the story about Maggie's getting used to having a paranormal ability and dealing with other people who believe in the supernatural, a subject that includes ghosts and spirits.

The murder is just touched on after a lot of time is spent on Maggie's not being sure if she wants to continue her relationship with Tom, who is always saying things against the supernatural and more importantly who is dragging his feet in getting his divorce finalized. On top of that Maggie is also now attracted to Marcus, a good looking and charismatic man who is very involved with the supernatural and who Maggie thinks is Liss's boyfriend. Maggie spends a good deal of energy in fighting down her rising attraction to him.

Because at the end of the story it's more a chick lit book than a tale of the supernatural or a murder mystery cozy, HEX MARKS THE SPOT misses the mark.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, January 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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