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A decades-old murder case comes alive

Cover of The Fifth Petal
A review of The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry is back with another novel set in Salem with some crossover characters from The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places. If you have not read either of these books, it does not hinder your understanding of what The Fifth Petal is about, but if you know and love Brunonia Barry's Salem and the characters featured in her exquisite storytelling, you will get lost in this story of a twenty-five-year-old murder case with ties to a present day crime.

A group of young women who call themselves the Goddesses are brutally murdered in a ritualistic ceremony on Halloween in 1989, a case that remains unsolved. Fast forward to 2014 and a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween. Many believe the events are linked and that local Salem historian and "crazy woman" Rose Whelan is involved. Then the daughter of one of the murdered Goddesses shows up. Callie Cahill was five years old at the time of the murders but the scars of that night remain with her and her memories are the key to finally solving this mystery.

The Fifth Petal weaves the stories of the Goddesses and the havoc they wrecked as young and reckless beauties during a time of late 80s excess and how decades later memories distort the truth. A lot of secrets surround the Goddess murders and the residents of Salem who were around during their reign don't want the past dug up, literally and figuratively. It's up to Callie and Rafferty, the reliable police detective and husband of Towner Whitney, the woman who binds the past and the present together, to set the story straight.

Myth and legend combines with modern day alchemy in the form of medicinal (or otherwise) herbs and tonics to create a trippy journey that will keep readers on the edge of their seats while the characters of the book are at the rocky ledges of Salem and surrounding islands. The results are spectacular.

I adore Brunonia Barry's writing and this book is no exception. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long between novels. 

Dec 4, 2017