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by Jennifer David Hesse
Kensington, October 2017
307 pages
ISBN: 1496704967

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Keli and her sometime friend, sometime rival lawyer Crenshaw Davenport III are assigned do to some undercover investigating while ostensibly doing a legal audit for a friend of their boss. Beverly's friend is running for mayor in Edindale and is being blackmailed. Beverly insists that Edgar Harrison can't possibly be guilty of anything. She will however, concede that Edgar may have done a thing or two that might not look legal to one not versed in legal issues. While Keli and Crenshaw are at Harrison's office, they are invited to his annual Christmas Ball.

Concurrently, Keli is waiting for her boyfriend, photographer Wes, to return from Seattle. She is unsure where their relationship is headed, and has high hopes. The sudden and unexpected reappearance of a college boyfriend, Mick, into her life is not anything Keli wants. The flirtatious admiration of Zeke, the new IT guy in Harrison's company is amusing and, Keli is pretty sure, not to be taken seriously. Then there is the matter of her good friend Mila becoming the designated leader of a local coven. All these things, combined with seasonal travel to family, mean that Keli has a lot going on.

After the Ball, Mick lures Keli back to the hotel with the promise of returning something of hers that he kept all those years ago. When Keli, with Wes, returns to the hotel, she is the unfortunate person who discovers Edgar's body under one of the Christmas trees. He is quite dead. The initial theory is that he fell over a balcony due to his inebriated state, certainly a likely and possible scenario. Keli doesn't buy it. There are too many questions left unanswered and Keli is a persistent person. Somebody was blackmailing Edgar. Who? Why? Does any of this have anything to do with the feeling that she is being watched, followed? Keli is not going to let this go.

Keli uses her religion, Wicca, in several ways during the course of the novel. She uses it to focus her mind, to guard her against evil, to seek truth from various people. It is a central part of her personality without being a distraction or a facile plot device. The blizzard at the end, on the other hand, is as old as mystery fiction - and works as well as Hesse can make it work. The romance between Keli and Wes continues apace; he is not distracted by Mick or Zeke and seems to trust Keli an awful lot (which is a good thing). This is well-plotted and amusing, keeping this reader interested on a cold and snowy afternoon. One hopes the third entry in the series continues to be as entertaining as this second story.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, November 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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