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Bruja Brouhaha
A Mind for Murder Mystery #2
Rochelle Staab

Berkley Prime Crime
August 7, 2012 / ISBN 978-0-425-25149-2

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Liz Cooper and her boyfriend Nick Garfield attend a celebratory party at the home of Paco and Lucia Rojas, to mark the Rojas' 60th wedding anniversary. Dinner goes well, and Liz is learning more about their Santeria religion. There is after dinner dancing, and then the downstairs door buzzer rings. Paco goes downstairs to let in their tenant, Teresa Suarez. You see, the door has a new bolt on it because the lock was broken, so Teresa's key would not work.

In a matter of seconds, there is gunfire, and Paco and the young man walking Teresa home are both killed. Lucia becomes both confused and very angry. She lets forth a hex on all those attending her husband's wake. When terrible things begin to happen, more and more people are frightened and believe Lucia is a witch. Lucia may be forced out of her home upstairs and the shop she and Paco ran downstairs as she becomes more disoriented and the danger to her increases.

I found this second book in the Mind for Murder series to be considerably darker than the first book, Who Do, Voodoo? Yet I persevered and found that the actual darkness and foreboding atmosphere was more reality based than I'd first thought. There are gangs in the area, which is no surprise for Los Angeles, and the threats they posed were worse than any hex.

There are also passages that present good examples of true love. Paco and Lucia had loved each other for over sixty years, and her devastation at his loss rang true. Liz and Nick are still feeling their way around their relationship, taking baby steps, but it is easy to see their love deepening, and as Liz admits, their sex life is great!

Overall I'd give this book three stars, and I do recommend that you read the first book before this one, primarily so you can experience the character's growth. It's not what I would call a cozy mystery, and there is a bit of "magic" if you count the hex, but it's not enough for the book to be considered paranormal. It's more of an inner-city culture clash crime story driven by greed. I think it says a lot that despite finding the book dark at first, I kept reading because I had to know the whodunit and why, and the author presented a compelling story.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Who Do Voodoo? #1

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2012