Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review (+ Tour Giveaway): Five Dog Voodoo

Five Dog Voodoo
By Lia Farrell
A Mae December Mystery #5
Camel Press, 2016


As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben’s campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff’s office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case. In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben’s smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.

Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman’s body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley’s unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory’s front door, effectively banning her from the case. Evangeline and the sheriff’s office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben’s job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.

Book 5 in the Mae December Mystery series, which began with One Dog Too Many.

My thoughts

Five Dog Voodoo is an excellent story, one of my favorites in the cozy mystery genre. While the title initially gave me pause, the description caught my interest – and I’ve discovered what looks to be a great series. It’s extremely well written, with no unnecessary descriptions or repetition of thoughts as filler, and moves at a quick pace. Setting is atmospheric, plot is multilayered, and an appealing ensemble cast adds much depth. This book can stand alone, but I’m eager to read the four previous stories and hope for more to come.

The setting moves between the small Tennessee town of Rosedale and the Voodoo Village located close by, which literally becomes a major character. My knowledge of voodoo is minimal, and the authors did a masterful job at bringing this group of people and their beliefs to life. Sheriff Ben Bradley’s murder investigation is complicated by the people’s secretiveness and belief that they are outside the law. I found the secondary plot involving Chief Detective Wayne Nichols emotional and poignant. And Erzuline, a Weimaraner that Mae takes in while she is nursing her pups, simply stole my heart.

The mystery itself is well plotted – and I loved how, rather than being overly suspenseful, it involved the logical, step-by-step gathering of facts. It was easy to follow and held my attention throughout.

I was especially drawn to Evangeline, whose Voodoo background was invaluable in helping to solve the case. Her words to Wayne also made these people feel so real: “Although the Voodoo Village is a curiosity to most of us, to the people who live there it’s a paradise, a sacred space of safety and community.” The scenes involving the fête mori, a festival honoring the dead, were vivid and haunting. It was at this festival that Evangeline strongly felt the pull of the Voodoo culture, and I loved the way that struggle played out at the end.

Five Dog Voodoo is all that a cozy mystery should be and I enjoyed it greatly. It is basically a clean read, with only a few instances of mild profanity and some of the characters living together being the only negatives for me.

Highly recommended.


Lia Farrell is the nom de plume for a mother/daughter duo of writers. Mom Lyn Farquhar and Daughter Lisa Fitzsimmons have been collaborating on the Mae December mystery series for four years.

        Lyn Farquhar taught herself to read before starting school and honed her story telling abilities by reading to her little sister. Ultimately, her mother ended the reading sessions because Lyn’s sister decided she preferred being read to over learning to read herself. She fell in love with library books at the age of six when a Bookmobile came to her one-room rural elementary school. The day the Bookmobile arrived, Lyn decided she would rather live in the bookmobile than at home and was only ousted following sustained efforts by her teacher and the bookmobile driver.
        Lyn graduated from Okemos High School in Michigan and got her college and graduate degrees from Michigan State University. She has a master’s degree in English literature and a Ph.D. in Education, but has always maintained that she remained a student for such a long time only because it gave her an excuse to read. Lyn holds the rank of Professor of Medical Education at Michigan State University and has authored many journal articles, abstracts and research grants. Since her retirement from MSU to become a full time writer, she has completed a Young Adult Fantasy trilogy called Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom. Volume I from the trilogy is entitled Journey to Maidenstone and is available on Lyn has two daughters and six step children, nine granddaughters and three grandsons. She also has two extremely spoiled Welsh Corgi’s. Her hobby is interior design and she claims she has the equivalent of a master’s degree from watching way too many decorating shows.

        Lisa Fitzsimmons grew up in Michigan and was always encouraged to read, write and express herself artistically. She was read aloud to frequently. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was seldom seen without a book in hand. After becoming a mom at a young age, she attended Michigan State University in a tri-emphasis program with concentrations in Fine Art, Art History an Interior Design.
        Lisa, with her husband and their two children, moved to North Carolina for three exciting years and then on to Tennessee, which she now calls home. She has enjoyed an eighteen year career as a Muralist and Interior Designer in middle Tennessee, but has always been interested in writing. Almost five years ago, Lisa and her mom, Lyn, began working on a writing project inspired by local events. The Mae December Mystery series was born.
        Lisa, her husband and their three dogs currently divide their time between beautiful Northern Michigan in the summertime and middle Tennessee the rest of the year. She and her husband feel very blessed that their “empty nest” in Tennessee is just a short distance from their oldest, who has a beautiful family of her own. Their youngest child has settled in Northern Michigan, close to their cabin there. Life is good.


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I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then enter below to win an e-book copy of Five Dog Voodoo.


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