Title: Charmed Circle
Author: Dolores Stewart Riccio
Publisher: Kensington Books, 2003
Hardcover, 276 pages
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy, #2 Cass Shipton mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: An enchanting afternoon in April, windows wide open to the scent of lilac and ocean breeze freshening the house-- my spirit should have been lifting and soaring like a gull over the waves, but here was Deirdre sipping tea and dispensing gloomy suspicions at my kitchen table.
Between her herbalist business and her circle of friends, Cass Shipton has been busy. The last thing she needs is a troubled teen underfoot, but when "Freddie" McGinty shows up trailing disaster in her wake, Cass feels that it's her duty to help the girl understand and control the powerful gifts she's been given.
All Plymouth is talking about the recent disappearance of a local family, and Cass begins having disturbing visions of dense forests, a shallow grave, and a very sinister man. Cass calls on her circle of friends to help her find the missing family before it's too late.
So far, I've enjoyed this series which gives insight into the Wiccan way of life, a way of life that's very much in tune with nature and has a great deal more to do with common sense and compassion than most people realize. What makes Riccio's books so enjoyable is threefold: (1) Cass's "conversations" with her dog, (2) every woman in Cass's circle of friends has her own foibles; no one is perfect, and (3) it's so refreshing to have a female character over the age of forty who has a fun, healthy sex life.
The thing that I questioned in this book was the treatment of the villain. For most of the book, he's a phantom and very seldom seen. All the reader knows is someone opens a box and-- BOOM! the person is blown to smithereens. As the body count mounts, the bad guy almost becomes Super Villain, and his capture at the end is tame in comparison to the trail of destruction he'd strewn earlier.
Be that as it may, it had been two or three years since I read the first book in the series, but I had no problem getting back into the setting and characters again. Don't feel as though you have to begin at the beginning. The cast of characters and their lifestyle are well worth getting to know.