Friday, January 21, 2011

Hex Marks The Spot

Hex Marks The Spot
Author: Madelyn Alt
Berkley, 2007
246 pages

This is Book 3 of the Bewitching Mystery series. It's early springtime in northern Indiana, and main character Maggie and her boss, Felicity ("Liss") are checking out the wares at the county farmers' market and craft sale. Liss is drawn to a piece of furniture that's been intricately carved with ancient symbols by an incredibly handsome young man from the nearby Amish community. When that young man turns up dead a short time later - the third murder in the small town of Stony Mill in just six months - lots of folks are on edge and ready to blame either the residents of a local juvenile facility . . . or the local witches.

Maggie's not a witch, but she's definitely sensitive to paranormal activity. She gets feelings and sees shadows and stuff like that. She does have friends who are witches, including Liss . . . and the hunky Marcus, who seems to be becoming even more desirable to Maggie.

Unfortunately, there are some in town (including Maggie's police officer friend, Tom - who may or may not be her boyfriend) who suspect the worst of anyone different. The dead man's widow is certainly different. She's Amish, too, but from a different sect, with different ways and a propensity for painting and drawing hex symbols. Clues indicate the couple was having marital troubles. Could she be the murderer?

Of course, Maggie gets drawn into the investigation. Along the way, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the paranormal world, whether or not she wants it. You see, in addition to the murder, there's other weird stuff happening in small Stony Mill, Indiana - such as ghosts in the local library. Somehow Maggie keeps winding up in the thick of things. Is Stony Mill located on some sort of portal to the "other" world? Hmm, guess we'll have to keep reading.

I like this series, and the small town "everybody knows everybody's business" setting is perfect for a paranormal mystery. The characters are reflective of people that everyone knows (Maggie's mother hen of a mom is one example), so it's easy to relate to Maggie and her everyday world. Hex Marks The Spot is the darkest of the series so far, but it's also my favorite. Maggie continues to grow as a character and her internal struggles are more apparent in this installment. She has lots of choices to make (and not just Tom vs. Marcus) so it'll be interesting to see where the author takes her in future books.

Other books in this series:
The Trouble With Magic (reviewed December 2009)
A Charmed Death (reviewed May 2010)