Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: Aug 7, 2012
Retail Price: 7.99
Practical psychologist Liz Cooper and occult professor Nick Garfield are enjoying the sixteenth wedding anniversary celebration for their charming hosts Paco and Lucia Rojas, devout Santeria practitioners who own the historic Botanica Rojas near MacArthur Park. But the small group of friends is left horrified and confused when the evening ends in tragedy.
Devastated by loss, Lucia, a Santeria priestess, blames the locals for the escalating crime in her beloved community. She casts a vengeful hex on the neighborhood, leading strangers and friends alike to dub her bruja--Spanish for witch--and turn on the elderly woman. Lucia may be in harm's way, and it's up to Liz and Nick to unravel a mysterious disappearance and solve a murder before more lives are lost...
Series: A Mind for Murder Mystery (Book 2)
For fans of: Jerrilyn Farmer, Victoria Laurie
Psychologist Liz Cooper and her boyfriend, religious philosophy professor Nick Garfield, are having a fabulous time helping Paco and Lucia Rojas celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Good food, good wine, good music, and good company – what more could anyone want in an evening? But joy quickly turns to shock and sorrow when Paco goes outside to let a neighbor into the building and is killed by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting. Lucia – a devout Santeria practitioner – is left shattered by the loss, and in a moment of grief-fueled rage, casts a very public and very vengeful hex on the entire neighborhood for letting the gangs turn their once-peaceful streets into a warzone.
Liz, ever the practical scientist, doesn’t believe in the occult, but even she can’t deny that bad luck is running rampant since Lucia’s outburst. She does, however, think that some of the tragedies seem a bit too convenient, and when the only living witness to Paco’s murder is shot dead in an alley and the man holding Lucia’s power of attorney goes missing, she finds herself wondering if someone’s found a way to capitalize on the chaos…
Bruja Brouhaha is the second in Rochelle Staab’s Mind for Murder Mystery series. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, but I have to say, I loved what I found. Staab’s book may be a traditional mystery, but there isn't much cozy about it. Set in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles, Bruja Brouhaha is a rich and complex tale of poverty, gang violence, corruption, dark magic, and murder. The pace is quick and the prose has a nice flow to it. The book has an incredibly strong sense of place, making it all the easier for one to get caught up in the story. And Staab successfully educates the reader regarding the origins, tenets, and practices of Santeria without resorting to info dumps. She manages to be informative but still engaging, which is both a rare feat and a nice surprise.
Bruja Brouhaha starts with a bang (quite literally) and then throws you straight into the center of the action. Staab does a fantastic job of recapping the events of the previous book in the series without slowing the tempo of the story at hand, and she manages to introduce new readers to recurring characters in a very organic way. Her writing is efficient, with every single scene forwarding plot or developing character, and the mystery is intricate, intelligent, and sure to keep you guessing until the very end.
Staab’s character work is truly top notch. Her cast is small, but almost every member is remarkably well developed. Liz is a smart, independent heroine, but she’s not without her insecurities or her flaws, making her someone with whom the reader can easily relate. Her relationship with Nick is realistic and believable, and he not only makes for a great love interest, but also is a compelling character in his own right. And you can’t help but adore Lucia. Fragile in her grief, yet still a force to be reckoned with, she’s the wise, kind, outspoken old woman you wish lived next door.
Put simply, Bruja Brouhaha is a fantastic read. Go out and buy it.
Reviewed by Kat N.
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