Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #11)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Light mystery with laugh out loud funny subplots
Cons: None for me since I enjoyed every page
The Bottom Line
If you love to laugh
This witchy mystery will
Be perfect for you

Improving the Neighborhood One Murder at a Time

Just in time for Halloween, we have the eleventh entry in Laura Levine's Jaine Austen mysteries.  And if you are looking for a funny mystery set around the holiday, Death of a Neighborhood Witch is the one for you.

For the most part, freelance writer Jaine Austen gets along well with her neighbors.  The exception to this is the former actress best known as Cryptessa Muldoon, star of the one season sitcom I Married a Zombie.  After a run in where Cryptessa's pet bird dies, Jaine finds herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.  Then, on Halloween night, someone kills Cryptessa, and the police zero in on Jaine as the killer.  After all, the killer was spotted and he or she was wearing the costume that Jaine was wearing to a party.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Jaine's father is once again feuding with Lydia Pinkus.  But while it starts over his fang-tastic Dracula decoration, it soon leads to more.  And closer to home, Jaine and her neighbor Lance are fighting for the attention of their cute new neighbor.  Who will he chose to date?  And will Jaine be able to clear herself of murder?

This may be the thirteenth entry in the series, but each book pretty much stands alone, so you can jump in here without missing much.  In fact, this long time reader was happy to see more of Jaine's neighborhood, a location we don't normally spend must time in the series.  Like other locations in her life, Jaine's neighborhood are filled with characters who are real enough to make us care about the outcome but even if they are partially caricature designed to create a few more laughs.  It's a fine line, and it works here quite well.

Between the murder and the sub-plots, there is always something happening here, and I always found the book hard to put down.  The murder is a little slow to get going, but when it does, it includes some fun twists and a whole heard of potential suspects.

And the sub-plots?  They did their job of making me laugh.  In fact, there was one scene in particular that I laughed harder at than anything for several entries in this series.  Overall, the humor really worked for me in this book, and even when I wasn't laughing out loud (in public, mind you), I was smiling and chuckling at the situations Jaine managed to get herself into.

No, this series will never be mistaken for a serious series, but it's not trying to be.  Instead, you'll find some laughs and a decent mystery.  And if that appeals to you, you'll love Death of a Neighborhood Witch.

Once you've sold this mystery, you'll want to back track and check out the rest of the Jaine Austen Mysteries in order.

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