Delia James returns to the blog today with the second in her Witch’s Cat Mystery, set in Portsmouth. Narrated by Elise Arsenault, please read on for my review of
By Familiar Means
SO much going on in this story! Anna has decided to stay in Portsmouth, as she’s made some friends, met some of the women from her grandmother’s coven, discovered that she and Alistair the cat have rapport, and finds the city to her liking. But, she’s got to find a way to make some money, and an offer appears in forform of a series of murals for a new coffee shop location, if she’ll also exorcise the ghosts from the building. Anna’s kind of up for anything, even as she doesn’t know how to remove ghosts, or even where to start, but needs must and her investigations at the building turn up Bootlegger’s smuggling tunnels, and a newly dead body.
And then the fun really begins! Anna’s Grandma BB arrives back in town after a falling out with her coven, and she’s helping Anna understand her own abilities, sorting out her own issues with the coven, and dabbling in the mystery as it unfolds. Of course, Anna as the discoverer of the body is a suspect, as are the coffee shop owners who hired her, and the twists and turns are real. When you add in some very real concerns in terms of maintaining historic elements and small business in lieu of tried and true national big box stores, the history of smuggling and Portsmouth’s proximity to open water, Anna’s newly found ‘skill’ and Alistair the cat’s multiple inputs into her life, the mystery and as general adorable-ness, the story is clever, twisty and the reveal is wonderful.
Picking up from A Familiar Tail, Elise Arsenault again narrates this installment, and her presentation of the different characters, and the continuity with Anna’s portrayal is wonderfully skilled: each new character is imbued with the ‘descriptive adjectives’ that James introduced them with: the coffee house owners, a touch of hippie-dippy is clearly presented, Grandma BB sounds older, but also has her own quirks and reveals – each bringing about an easy understanding of who is speaking, what they are feeling and even adding to the visual image the listener has in their head. Easily followed out of order, I still think the best way here is to go in order – mostly to get the sense of place that newcomer Annabelle brings, and the charm that convinces her to stay in Portsmouth, as well as the clever mysteries to solve using some magic, some guesswork and lots of dead ends.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 5
Title: By Familiar Means
Author: Delia James
Series: Witch's Cat Mystery #2
Also in this series: A Familiar Tail
Genre: Animals, Contemporary Cozy Mystery, Witches
Narrator: Elise Arsenault
Published by: Berkley, Tantor Audio
Published on: 11 July, 2017
Source: Tantor Audio
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 5 minutes
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In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house. After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years. But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening. Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer...
See the Witch's Cat Mystery series on Goodreads
A copy of this title was provided via Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.