by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of the latest Superstition Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, along with a fun guest post by Linda on Halloween superstitions. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Knock On Wood, along with a link to purchase the book.
Knock on Wood: A Superstition Mystery By Linda O. Johnston
Review by Cynthia Chow
Rory Chasen came to Destiny, California, seeking answers to the portentous death of her fiancé after he walked under a ladder. What she found was a town that was the headquarters for all things superstitious, as well as a new job managing the Lucky Dog Boutique and selling superstitious pet-related items. Rory is thrilled to have a visit from her best friend Gemma Grayfield, but Rory senses that all things are not right with her BFF. Before Rory can do any friendly inquisition, Gemma becomes much in demand as two local men engage in some very unfriendly competition for her attention. Stuart Chanick is the publisher and editor of the locally renowned reference tome The Destiny of Superstitions (authored by a man who should have paid more attention to the signs), while Lou Landorf is the aggressively assertive public affairs director who compulsively knocks on wood to ward off bad luck.
Also thrown into the mix is Gemma’s ex-boyfriend Frank Shorester, who creepily stalks Gemma through town and lurks in the Broken Mirror Bookstore where librarian Gemma just began working as manager. The rivalry is cut short when Rory and her Spaniel-Terrier mix Pluckie discover one of the suitors after he encountered the ultimate of misfortunes. Gemma’s recent confrontation with the victim places her directly in the sight of the police, and not even handsome Destiny Police Department Chief Justin Halbertson can prevent Rory from attempting to ensure the good fate of her friend.
In this second of the series, Rory continues to use superstitions as a coping mechanism to deal with the loss of her fiancé. To that end, she allows superstitions to guide her in making decisions and as explanations for the unfathomable events that occur throughout life. While her obsessions could be paralyzing by its restrictions, the town of Destiny actually encourages these beliefs. This tourist destination revels in all things superstitious, as even its name derives from its original discovery at the end of a rainbow. The Black Cat Inn, Break-a-Leg Theater, Heads-Up Penny Gifts, and Rainbow Bed and Breakfast all rely on true believers, although a little salting the sidewalk with pennies never hurts.
An undercurrent of mourning prevents Rory from taking the next step with Justin, but the support of Destiny and the faithful Pluckie aid in raising her spirits when she gets too involved with her fears. This series displays more subtle humor than the author’s Pet Rescue, Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter, and Bakery and Biscuits mystery series, but all share the same devotion for the animals who make the characters’ lives complete. A complex and sympathetic heroine ensures that readers will enjoy spending time in this eccentric town filled with an equally unique population.
Another Year and More about Halloween Superstitions
By Linda O. Johnston
Last year around this time I wrote an article for Kings River Life about Halloween superstitions, and here is another one. Why? Because I write Superstition Mysteries!
A couple of superstitions reign when we consider Halloween. For one thing, there are Jack O’Lanterns, which were created because the soul of an evil man named Jack was reportedly ousted from heaven and forced to roam the earth. Not wanting to sit alone in the dark, he made a pact with the devil, who gave him an ember with a glow that would never go out. To protect it and himself, he inserted it into a turnip, and over the years the ritual of putting a light inside a turnip morphed into a pumpkin.”Trick or treat” arose from the old ritual of going door to door on Halloween asking for prayers for the souls of the dead, and people apparently started giving out food to those showing up on their doorstep.
I mentioned both of these important ones last time, but are there more Halloween superstitions? Sure! For one thing, consider witches. One of the reasons black cats are sometimes considered bad luck is that they may be witches’ familiars. But then, so are owls and toads, and a person coming across one or another of them, especially on Halloween, might need to have some kind of protective amulet.
Do you happen to have bats flying around your house near Halloween? Look out, then. That may mean there are ghosts or other spirits hanging around, too! Should you be in costume, perhaps pretending to be a zombie and decide to lie down in a coffin… don’t, at least not if you’re superstitious. That can invite bad luck for you, maybe even death.
There are a lot of other superstitions regarding ghosts, too. If you hear footsteps behind you on Halloween night, don’t look back. A dead person could be behind you, and if you turn back to look it may mean you’ll join him!
On the other hand, if you carry a lump of bread in your pocket when walking in the dark it may make ghosts happy, since it could serve as an offering to those ghosts. But don’t slam a door on Halloween! If you do, it might hurt a ghost, and it may haunt you for the rest of your life. Still, if you see a ghost, walk around it nine times, and it will disappear.
What’s my take on all this? Be careful about what and who is around you on Halloween. One thing you can always do is to knock on wood that you remain safe. And it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the second book in my Superstition Mystery series, Knock on Wood.
In the Superstition Mysteries, protagonist Rory Chasen, now lives in the fictional town of Destiny, California, which is all about superstitions, along with her lucky black and white dog, Pluckie. Rory now runs the Lucky Dog Boutique, and her best friend, Gemma Grayfield, comes for a visit. Gemma is trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend, who follows her there. Even so, Gemma flirts with some other men in town and when one of them winds up dead, Rory has to help clear her good friend of murder. Meantime, Rory is getting to know Police Chief Justin Halbertson better, but she’s a bit ambivalent about starting a relationship. This is because she came to Destiny in the first place to try to learn the reality of superstitions because her fiancé walked under a ladder and died soon afterward.
Knock on Wood is available now. As I said about the first in the series, Lost under a Ladder, I believe that reading it can bring you good luck – or at least I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it will!
To enter to win a copy of Knock on Wood, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Knock,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 31, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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