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By Familiar Means
A Witch's Cat Mystery #2
Delia James

Berkley Prime Crime
September 27, 2016 / ISBN 978-0-451-47658-6

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


Annabelle Britton is living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she is a freelance artist and a member of a witch's coven. She is learning to use her newly discovered magical abilities under the guidance of Julia Parris, a bookshop owner, and elder in the coven. Julia is also the estranged best friend of Annabelle's grandmother, Grandma B.B. Annabelle's familiar is Alistair, a very magical cat who can disappear at will and transport himself from place to place seamlessly.

While using her powers (without Julia's permission or supervision) to try to help coffee shop owner's Jake and Miranda determine if the building they've purchased for a new location is haunted or not, a smugglers tunnel is uncovered, and deep inside it a freshly dead body as well! The dead is Jimmy Upton, an up and coming chef who was murdered and his body placed deliberately in the tunnel. Someone seems to be setting up Jake as a killer, but the questions are the usual: who and why? Will Annabelle, Alistair, Grandma B.B. and a host of other local characters be able to put the pieces together before the overly enthusiastic Lieutenant Blanchard arrests Jake and sends him off to a speedy trial?

Paranormal cozies have become quite trendy over the past few years. There are several series which I really enjoy and look forward to new books from those authors. When a new one comes along, I find that I've become a bit skeptical about whether they will be unique enough to hold their own. In fact, I did not read the first book in this series, A Familiar Tail.

Something about By Familiar Means called to me, however, and I'm so glad! I thoroughly enjoyed this book from cover to cover. Literally! The artwork on the front cover is spectacular and is what first drew me to it. Each character within is exceptionally well written, with nuances which are consistent throughout the book, and true to life relationships built. The main murder mystery plot, and the subplots involving Plymouth businesses and history, and an impending birth, and even a magical cat courtship of sorts, are finely tuned. I am so impressed with this book and this author's work that, not only can I not wait for the next book, I'm headed right out to find the first!

I can't recommend By Familiar Means highly enough and rate it Five Magic Wands all imbued with positive energy! If you enjoy a paranormal cozy mystery, you'll want to fly to your bookseller and get your copy today! Pick up A Familiar Tail while you are there!

Reviews of other titles in this series

A Familiar Tail #1
By Familiar Means #2
Familiar Motives #3

Reviewed 2016