Harlow Torrent, part-time journalist and full-time Slip Witch is hot on the trail of an arsonist.
But who is behind the deadly fires? Someone working for their own evil ends or a fire spirit acting according to its nature? Or perhaps a magical power hidden away?
Between dealing with sleazy real estate developers intent on getting their hands on Torrent Mansion, a teenage Slip Witch who just might be the Queen of Sarcasm, a talking magical cat who smells like lavender, and an AWOL potential future boyfriend, Harlow would love nothing more than a peaceful Summer.
But when a special arson investigator arrives in town with his sights set on Harlow, she has to fight to clear her name!
If you haven’t read the other books in this series, go back and read them. This book starts where that one left off.
In the last book Harlow’s slip caused her to see clips of the past as she works to solve the murder of the skeletons they found. In those are clues to something, she just doesn’t quite know what.
This book opens with a series of fires. Starting with a warehouse, then a vacant rental home and now this one. Unfortunately, in this latest fire the occupant died of smoke inhalation so if it was indeed arson, then it’s also murder. With her history with fire Harlow doesn’t want to report on a fire especially if it’s possibly arson.
She’s also waiting for Jack to return from cleaning up his affairs in Canada, that’s taken longer than he expected.
She gets a bit of a heads up from Sheriff Hardy about the arson special investigator, who’s coming to town. Apparently, he’s connected her to the fire in her apartment building (attributed to faulty wiring) that caused her to come back to Harlot Bay and the subsequent fire in the house on the Torrent property that had the family moving back into the main mansion. We can’t forget that fire from the first book when a kettle on a stove started the fire in Zero Storm’s rental, after she had been there. Oh, and let’s not forget the fireworks explosion and fire the first night with guests at the newly opened Torrent Mansion Bed and Breakfast. That one had some interesting consequences for Harlow.
In an interesting turn of events, real-estate agent and developer, Dominic Gresso, stops by wanting to buy the mansion. Mentioning that April Torrent is the owner of record, and he can’t find her to talk to. That brings up hackles on Aunt Cass as she swiftly gets rid of him. April is Cass’s sister and Harlow’s grandmother who is frozen in time in the basement. No one know when she will awaken, they are just confident she will one day.
You’d think that would be enough for an opening, but it goes one step further. In an unexpected move, Hattie Stern drops off her granddaughter Kira to be trained by Aunt Cass. Like Harlow and Cass, Kira is a slip witch and there’s concern that the fires may have been caused by her slipping. Aunt Cass is also having Harlow get involved.
This is a favorite scene.
“The two of you are not going to talk about what you’re about to see today, okay?” Aunt Cass said, pointing a finger at both of us.
“Um… okay?” Kira said.
“Enough with the dramatics,” I said.
“Snitches end up in ditches,” Aunt Cass said, wiggling her finger at me. “This way.”
We followed her back through the kitchen and down the stairs into the basement. Grandma, as usual, was standing in the back corner, still frozen in time with her hands out in front of her. She had a concealment spell on her, which excluded family members. Aunt Cass waved a hand and Kira gasped as Grandma appeared.
“Oh my Goddess,” she said.
“Tell anyone and I’ll curse you back to the Stone Age,” Aunt Cass said. She grabbed the flashlight by the door that led to the underfloor of the house.
“What happened to her?”
“She attempted some dangerous magic,” Aunt Cass said.
Unbelievable. She won’t tell us a thing, but the moment someone from outside the family shows up, she spills that Grandma attempted some dangerous magic?
Aunt Cass flicked on the flashlight and opened the old door, and we followed her in.
“Be careful where you walk. Some of the floorboards are rotting and there’s another entire story below us,” I told Kira.
She didn’t say anything but did turn on her phone light.
At first I thought we were heading for Aunt Cass’s underground laboratory, but then we took a right instead of a left and headed down a corridor I was sure I’d never seen before. It ended in a heavy door. Aunt Cass grunted when she opened it.
We followed her into a room that looked like something out of a serial killer’s fantasy.
You know in those cop shows how there is always a moment when they have the big map covered with strings and pins and there are photographs stuck to the wall and random newspaper articles all over the place? Aunt Cass done that to this room. One entire wall was a gigantic map of Harlot Bay and its surrounds. I counted at least eight different pin colors. Tangled around the pins were bits of crisscrossed thread with no apparent pattern. The map had question marks and notes written all over it.
I walked over to the map to take a closer look and then felt a push of magic from behind me. Between one blink and the next, most of the pins on the map vanished, leaving only a few red ones behind.
She’d seriously cast a concealment spell to stop me from looking at the map?
“What did you do that for?” I asked, turning around. I saw the rest of the walls were blank now too.
“I need you to help me with this, and all the rest of that stuff would just confuse you,” Aunt Cass said, fixing me with a challenging look.
Or you just like showing off, I thought.
“You need us to help you?” Kira asked.
“Around the beginning of the summer, something set off a magical fire in my stash of fireworks up in one of the cottages behind the mansion. They destroyed many hundreds of dollars’ worth of stock and cost me possibly thousands of dollars’ worth of profit. I have been investigating this for some months and have come to the conclusion it appears to be a magical entity of some type. Given the recent fires in Harlot Bay, I believe we are dealing with a fire spirit of some kind, and I need your help, both of you, to track it down.”
“A fire spirit? So all the red pins are recent fires?” I asked.
“All reported and unreported fires I’ve been able to discover. Whatever it is keeps moving around, so what I need you to do is take the three beacons over there and place them in three specific locations so we can triangulate a position for whatever this thing is. Understand?”
The beacons were essentially pieces of carved crystal, with a raven’s feather and some other bits and pieces, bound up with string.
“You think the fire yesterday out on the coast was caused by a fire spirit?” I asked.
“Duh, that’s what she just said,” Kira said to me.
“I like her. She gets it,” Aunt Cass said. She picked up the beacons and handed them to Kira while I tried not to glare.
“You’ll be in charge of these. Here are the addresses of the places where I need you to put them up. Now get going. I need it done right now.”
Aunt Cass waved the list of addresses at me.
“Wait, I want more information. If there is a fire spirit somewhere in Harlot Bay, what are you going to do with it when you find it?”
Aunt Cass shrugged.
“I’m not sure yet. Maybe trap it and deport it. Or if it won’t cooperate, I might have to extinguish it.”
“Let’s do it. I’m ready,” Kira said.
Teenagers. So easily swayed and so desperate for approval.
“Okay, give me the addresses,” I muttered.
Lake, Tess. Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Complete Box Set (Books 1 – 10) Kindle Locations (6352-6388). Tess Lake. Kindle Edition.
Of course, nothing is going to be simple about any of this.
Their participation in the pirate’s parade is key in Jack making quite an appearance. The investigator snoops close to home, and clues lead to more than just the fires.
I love the addition of Kira to these books, she’s snarky and fun. Adams as always has me giggling at his antics. Plus, all the new relationships that have formed grow stronger.
I am already reading the next book, as I purchased this as a complete series box set.
5 Contented Purrs for Tess!
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I’m all about Cozy Witches! Mystery, murder, magic!