Evil Turns by Jane Tesh is the 5th book in the “Madeline Maclin” mystery series. Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press, May 2016

Evil TurnsMurder by witchcraft?

Private investigator and former beauty queen Madeline Maclin thought she’d seen it all in her small North Carolina town of Celosia. Yet EVIL TURNS, fifth in the lively series by Jane Tesh, opens with a young man’s body covered in strange occult symbols found in a local vineyard, putting Maddy on notice that there is more than one witch in the neighborhood.

Years ago, a group of women in town formed Darkrose Coven, a practice now taken up by younger residents who insist that their dark rose tattoos only honor their favorite character from the popular Pagan Desires books and movies. Has the old coven reappeared? Is the new coven responsible for the ritualistic murder?

Intrigue unfolds as Celosia prepares for its centennial. The Women’s Improvement Society, led by wealthy, obnoxious Amanda Price, plans to create an outdoor musical drama, Flower of the South, extolling Emmaline Ross, one of the state’s first vintners. Amanda steamrolls past City Councilmember Harold Stover, who fears Celosia cannot afford this costly venture, and Nathan Fenton, who refuses to let her use his Camp Lakenwood land for the production. When Harold is murdered, Amanda is the prime suspect. She hires Maddy to prove her innocence.

Are the two murders connected? What about Megan Underwood, a local wiccan from the defunct commune, Peaceful Meadow, which had ties to the Darkrose Coven? Megan complicates Maddy’s inquiries, drifting in and out of town claiming she is Emmaline reborn.

What is the secret the Darkrose Coven is so desperate to hide?

Maddy is stretched to the limit. Not only is she juggling her time investigating murder suspects, feuding locals, and a long-ago missing infant. She also has to fend off threats by a disreputable goon from her husband’s past-her talented and charming spouse, Jerry Fairweather, had once been a con artist. Their current life together, committed to the straight and narrow, could be totally wrecked.

Madeline needs magic of her own to unravel the twists and turns of tangled relationships and to find one singular lost soul.

Once this story took off, it kept my attention from the moment Madeline became involved in the various cases she was hired to do. From keeping one person out of jail to uncovering a secret best hidden to keeping her husband from his past, Madeline has her hand full and she does that so easily in this evenly-paced drama.

I love the comfortable tone and the way each chapter flowed from one to the other giving you enough clues to that leads you closer to the identity of the person responsible, and boy was it a doozy with all that was going on with each suspect. The author did a great job of blending it all together with some interesting twists that made sense once it was all said and done. What I like best about this book is there’s always time for some humor and it is a welcome joy to see the appearances of Austin and Denisha. With engaging dialogue and a lovable cast of characters, this was an enjoyable read and I look forward to more adventures with Maddy, Jerry and her friends.

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