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Hexes and Hemlines
A Witchcraft Mystery, No 3
Juliet Blackwell

June 2011/ ISBN 978-0-451-23378-3

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Hexes and Hemlines is the third entry in the “Witchcraft Mystery” series by Juliet Blackwell. Lily Ivory runs her vintage clothing shop in San Francisco and finds that life in the off-beat city suits her well. She has plenty of customers, good friends, and most people don’t seem to notice her witchy ways.

Hoping that life will stay settled into a somewhat normal pattern after encountering murders in the first two books in this series, Lily is surprised when SFPD inspector Carlos Romero calls her in to help with a most unsettling murder. Malachi Zazi has been stabbed in the heart in his own apartment. An apartment filled with bad luck omens such as a broken mirror, a black cat and a bird trapped inside.

The murder inquiry leads Lily to become even more cautious and frightened by other practitioners of other-worldly crafts in the San Francisco area, including Aiden Rhodes, a male-witch who is undertaking the task of completing Lily’s education as a witch, which, as it happens, was cut short by a terrible incident in her hometown. Lily doesn’t trust Aiden as far as she can throw him. Her familiar, Oscar, whose form varies between a gargoyle-like creature (there’s a story behind this) and a pot-bellied pig, is in question too; after all, he’s some sort of minion of Aiden’s as well. Just who can she believe in?

As Lily finds herself enmeshed deeper and deeper into whom or what killed Malachi Zazi, she meets some unlikely candidates, including Malachi’s own father, known as the High Priest or Priest High, depending upon whom you ask. Magic is afoot, and it all seems bad. Or is it merely that the dinner guests of the late Zazi are all running into a string of bad luck? Very serious bad luck that is.

I enjoy this series very much. The magic is captivating, the mysteries out of this world and the characters, even some of the bad ones, lovable in their own ways. Lily is a true nature girl, a misfit in her world who is trying to fit in. I know I’d love to shop in her vintage clothing store, “Aunt Cora’s Closet,” because the inventory is described so well that I know I’d enjoy every minute there. Oscar sounds, well, adorable and tender hearted despite his stony exterior. And who wouldn’t love a witch like Lily who, while allergic to cats, nevertheless adopts the murder victim’s homeless pet?

This is another of this summer’s winning mystery novels. A cozy/supernatural fun in the city story that makes for a great weekend read that would most likely appeal to teen and young adult women, but also to their mothers. Especially the mothers who remember the great clothes of the sixties and seventies and will also want to visit Lily’s store!

Reviews of other titles in this series

Hexes and Hemlines #3
In a Witch's Wardrobe #4
Tarnished and Torn #5
Vision in Velvet #6
Spellcasting in Silk #7
A Toxic Trousseau #8
A Magical Match #9

Reviewed 2011
© 2011