Magic, Mayhem, and Murder by January Bain

Magic, Mayhem, and Murder by January Bain
Book one in the Manitoba Tea & Tarot Mysteries series
Publisher: Totally Entwined
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal
Heat level: Sweet
Length: Full length (270 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Charm McCall, armed with a library full of Agatha Christie stories and her unique witchy gifts, knows how to solve a small-town murder…

Charm McCall, the oldest of the McCall triplets by a whole day—or one minute before midnight if one’s being picky—is the designated driver for her whole town. Why, if it wasn’t for her Snowy Lake would incinerate or fall into Hudson’s Bay. Now add her Salem Witch heritage that’s gifted her with some unique abilities and she’s all set to keep her family and town safe and on its proper course.

That is, until a hot Mountie moves into town, a busload of strippers breaks down on Main Street and Mrs. Hurst goes and gets herself murdered with poisoned jam. Jam crafted by Charm’s family at the Tea & Tarot café. Now it’s up to her to solve the murders—yes, plural, when another local business owner ends up dead.

Charm knows just what to do. What’s breaking a few laws if she can sleuth out the culprit? She knows the people of Snowy Lake better than any new lawman possibly could. So why can’t he just leave her be to get on with things?
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And why does he have to be so darn hot?

Readers will feel welcome in this charming little town with a host of characters. Charm is the oldest of three triplets who run a little tea café. When an unpopular neighbor is found dead, Charm tries to discover who could have done such a thing. Why does this matter so much to her? It’s personal. The murder weapon was poison, poison slipped into the scrumptious jam that Charm and her family make and sell in their café.

Charm’s handsome new friend, Ace, a lawman, is on the case, but the townsfolk are probably more likely to talk to her. Besides, the victim was last seen at her café. Charm and Ace are an unlikely couple, but the chemistry is there. However, they clash as each tries to solve the murder.

During each of their investigations, they are led down the path of danger, and then a second person is murdered. Why? And are the two murders connected? Charm reveals just how clever she is as she looks into this. It get a little scary though. Could she or someone she loves be next?

What complicates things is the fact that perhaps someone she likes might be involved. An interesting secondary cast gets introduced, one-by-one, adding plenty of people to suspect.

Charm accidently discovers that she has an amazing gift. Will this come in handy? It’s great seeing this gift in action, and serves to fill out her characterization. She has other gifts as well, which she will use to try to solve the case.

Eventually, Charm finds herself face-to-face with the killer. Will she get out of this alive and be able to continue to help people?

The theme of suspense against the mood of urgency is enhanced with a dash of humor. Throw in yummy treats, and you get good, escapist reading.

This story is the first in a series and is a worthy introduction to the other books. The characters and the town are intriguing and different, yet cozy. Cozy mystery readers who like a little magic mixed in are sure to enjoy this one.

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