Monday, August 22, 2016

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Hardcover448 pages
Expected publication: January 24th 2017 by Crown

What They Say......Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. 

Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. 

Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. 

Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Why I Say.....I had read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry but it was years ago, so when I started reading this book, I saw some characters that I vaguely remembered.  And there were a few, but really this was a brand new story set in Salem.

Callie was a small child when she was found hidden in some bushes, clutching a wooden five petal rose in her hand on the night her mother and her friends were found murdered, dropped into a crevice associated with the ancient Salem witch trials.

When she returns to Salem to help the woman who saved her that night so long ago, Callie discovers a side of her mother's story that she didn't know about.  Her mother and her friends were known as the Goddesses, but not just for their witchy ancestors, but because of their seduction of the local townsmen.  Not for love, or for money, but just because they could.  Which adds a possible motive for their murders.

In the meantime, Callie starts to develop a relationship with the local rich boy, who may or may not be ready for an adult relationship, as his mother is dying and his relationship with his father is strained.  Callie begins to treat his mother with her singing bowls, as she is a sound healer with a gift.

Meanwhile, local police chief, Rafferty, is investigating the Goddess's death, as the main suspect has now been involved with a new murder.  She was once a respected Salem scholar, but now is the crazy, homeless lady who predicts strangers deaths and claims that the banshee that killed the Goddesses is now responsible for this latest death.

I really enjoyed this book, but there was a LOT going on.  If I recall, I thought the same thing about The Lace Reader.  I think the book could have been about 50-100 pages less, and been about 20% better.  For example, the trip to Italy really didn't seem to add anything to the storyline.  I kept waiting for it's significance to appear, but if it was there - I didn't see it.

I really like these books, but I think I would love them if they were a little more succinct.  They tend to meander a bit.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.88

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