The Witch and the Borscht Pearl by Angela Zeman
Pendulum Press
ISBN 0971253811 - Trade Paperback
Cozy Mystery

Reviewed by Susan McBride,
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THE WITCH AND THE BORSCHT PEARL is an old-fashioned read that tells a murderous tale without benefit of car chases, gunfights or sex scenes. The pace is slower and the focus is on the eclectic cast of characters, beginning, of course, with Mrs. Risk (the "witch" in the title) and her sidekick, the young and feisty Rachel. Because of a feeling of indebtedness to Mrs. Risk, Rachel and the older woman have become close friends and have formed an odd detecting duo. As far as I could tell, the only witchcraft
Mrs. Risk practices is using her intuition and knowledge of people to see through facades like Superman with his x-ray vision.

Former star of the Borscht Belt, a comedienne called "Pearl," holds a coming out party to restart her career, only to have a valuable piece of jewelry stolen from under her well as her beloved Solly, manager and some say lover, too. The culprit, all believe, is her sister Bella, once banished to Europe after snagging Pearl's first love many years before. Definitely a tangled web, though Mrs. Risk seems to know what's going on before anyone else can see the truth. Rachel and Charlie, the milkman, are along for the ride.

Sometimes I forgot this story took place in contemporary times as the language and style of Ms. Zeman evoke writing from an earlier era. For those seeking a mystery that is cozy yet smart, THE WITCH AND THE BORSCHT PEARL might be what they're looking for.

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