Rochelle Staab launches her mystery career with a successful debut, the first book in the Mind for Murder series, Who Do Voodoo? What happens when a psychologist is forced to deal with magic, power she’s unwilling to accept?
Liz Cooper doesn’t want to accept the occult. She's a true skeptic. Her best friend, Robin Bloom, on the other hand, is a believer following the unexpected death of her husband a year earlier, the day after Liz’ mother read his tarot cards. Liz admits she has a “Distrust of the occult, ripened by a lifetime of Mom’ ridiculous predictions, turned into disgust.” When Robin finds a threatening tarot card on her door, though, followed by two more, on the anniversary of her husband’s death, Liz is angry enough to help her friend find the threat. So, she calls on her brother’s friend, Nick Garfield. Nick is a religious philosophy professor who teaches and writes about alternative beliefs.
Before Liz and Nick can track down the set of tarot cards, things get worse for Robin. When there’s a murder in the parking lot at The Greek Theater, Robin’s the primary suspect. She had a loud, observed argument with the victim shortly before Nick and Liz found the body in the parking lot. As evidence piles up, Liz is the only one convinced her childhood friend could not be a killer. And, if she has to join forces with Nick, going into the victim’s world of voodoo and hexes in order to find the truth, she’ll go against all her beliefs, and do it.
Staab’s characters are intriguing in this debut mystery. Liz and Nick represent opposing viewpoints, psychology and religion, to learn why people do what they do. And, as serious as the subjects are, along with the subject of murder, the author manages to include humor and light romance. There’s a fun scene in Liz’ kitchen, a confrontation between her ex, a baseball player, and Nick. And, her mother always adds a touch of humor, with her belief in the tarot cards, and her pushiness when it comes to Liz’ relationships.
At times, Liz seemed a little immature, particularly when it came to her feelings and actions around Nick. But, she’s still an interesting protagonist. Staab manages to include magic, the history of religion, humor and interesting characters in a solid mystery debut. I’m looking forward to the second book in the series. The contrasting beliefs leave a great deal of room for future stories. Who Do, Voodoo? successfully launched the series.
And, just as a point of interest, check out the terrific cover illustration by Blake Morrow. I still think Berkley Prime Crime has some of the best mystery book covers.
Rochelle Staab's website is www.rochellestaab.com
Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab. Berkley Prime Crime. ©2011. ISBN 9780425244593 (paperback), 292p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.