Sunday, August 31, 2008

REVIEW: Circle of Five

Title: Circle of Five
Author: Dolores Stewart Riccio
ISBN: 0758203004
Protagonist: herbalist and Wiccan Cassandra Shipton
Setting: present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts
Series: #1
Rating: B

First Line: The truck driver, a big ruddy-faced man with a cheerful demeanor, was whistling a tune from Gypsy as he applied a mask of clown makeup.

Perhaps I'm too well-versed in serial killers, but that first line immediately made me think of John Wayne Gacey. Perhaps that's what I was meant to think. Cassandra Shipton's children have all flown the nest, she's divorced her alcoholic bum of a husband, she's changed her name, and she's moved into her grandmother's cottage on the shore of Cape Cod. She's built up a successful herbal business, and she's found four true friends. They are all practicing Wiccans who keep their beliefs very low-key due to the opinion and behavior of their neighbors. Cassandra sees a stranger at the meat counter of the local supermarket and has a vision which tells her that this man is a killer of young boys. She tells her circle of friends, and they decide to look into it because they can't go to the police with a "vision". No matter how many protection spells they cast, they are such complete bunglers as detectives that it doesn't take the killer clown more than a nano-second to know what they're doing. Are they going to live long enough to put Bozo behind bars?

A few things in this book didn't work for me, chiefly the romance between Cassandra and Joe. It was probably meant to be mystical and spiritual, but it left me feeling that the main character had lost her marbles. Although I like Riccio's characterization, I couldn't be a member of this coven because--although each is wacky in her own way--there were too many instances of their claws showing when they dealt with each other. The serial killer was meant to be creepy, and even though my heartbeat did rachet up a time or two, I mostly found him bland.

Although it sounds as though I didn't like the book, I did--with reservations. I'll read the next book in the series because I did find the characters likeable, their lifestyle interesting and Riccio's writing to flow well. I want to see where the author takes these characters she's created.

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