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Knock on Wood (A Superstition Mystery) By Linda O. Johnston: Review/Guest Post/Giveaway

IN THE October 24 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andMysteryrat's Maze,

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.

bookAlso 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.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

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!

Plus, this is the time of year when supernatural stuff seems to come to life. Lots of people wear costumes. Black cats cross our paths or we watch out to try to prevent them. black cat #1

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!


Linda O. Johnston

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.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Click on this link to purchase this book:

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year. Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 41 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne. Linda also writes two cozy mystery series for Midnight Ink, the Superstition Mysteries and the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, which all involve dogs.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Valerie Hoynacki October 24, 2015 at 9:05am

Give me a dark windy and rainy fall night and this book to curl up with —– and some chocolate and popcorn!!!


2 Michelle perry October 24, 2015 at 9:09am

Linda’s first book in this series was hard to put down. Love all the superstitions that you learned.


3 Barb Wiesmann October 24, 2015 at 2:21pm

Fingers crossed and hugging my lucky shamrock!


4 Wanda Downs October 24, 2015 at 4:52pm

Would love to win


5 Sandy Todd October 24, 2015 at 6:09pm

Thank you Cynthia for introducing a new-to-me author and cozy mystery series!
I have to admit, I’m a wee bit superstitious myself.
Sandy in So. CA


6 Malka Essock October 24, 2015 at 10:20pm

i loved the first of this series and can’t wait for the 2nd!
knock wood there will be lots!


7 Jeanetta S. October 25, 2015 at 1:23am

Knock on Wood sounds like a fun read. I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for a chance to win.


8 Lynn Demsky October 25, 2015 at 6:53am

What a wonderful choice of readings! Thanks for telling us about this one – it will go on my TBR list!


9 Barbara Hawk
Twitter: @angelhwk68
October 25, 2015 at 10:43am

Thanks for the heads up on superstitions! Sounds like a great book!


10 Kathleen Costa October 25, 2015 at 11:38am

What a wonderful book! Thanks.


11 Kristina M. Anderson
Twitter: @booklover43
October 25, 2015 at 11:58am

I have not had a chance to read the first book in this series yet. Both books sound delightful. I look forward to reading them. Thank you for your review and a chance to win!
A recent post from Kristina M. Anderson: An Endless ChristmasMy Profile


12 Barbara October 25, 2015 at 12:23pm

This looks really good. I love finding new Authors for me which your site does a great job of showing


13 Jeanie
Twitter: @JeanieDannheim
October 25, 2015 at 2:54pm

Learning something new every day – I don’t remember hearing the story behind the Jack-o-lantern before, or that an owl or toad could be a witch’s familiar. Guess that means I have to start reading this series as it sounds like much more that I haven’t heard before – looking forward to it!


14 Peggy October 25, 2015 at 5:20pm

Knock on Wood sounds like a great read. I “meet” her on Facebook yesterday and she knows so much about superstitions!! Thank you for this chance. 🙂


15 Doward Wilson October 25, 2015 at 6:52pm

Wonderful review and post. I have the first book in my TBR pile. Thanks for the chance to win.


16 Kathleen Bylsma October 26, 2015 at 9:57am

Thanks for the additional superstition information! I had not heard of the door slamming nor bread in pocket theories…
I did enjoy the first book and would love to read the second one!


17 Joanne Kocourek
Twitter: @servedogmom
October 31, 2015 at 6:46pm

I just recently heard of this series, but love Linda O. Johnston’s Pet rescue and Pet sitter series. servedogmom@yahoo.com


18 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
November 9, 2015 at 12:13pm

We have a winner
Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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