Secondhand Spirits: A Witchcraft Mystery

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9780451227454: Secondhand Spirits: A Witchcraft Mystery

Love the vintage- not the ghosts

Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her "witchiness" in San Francisco. It's there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically.

Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?

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About the Author:

Juliet Blackwell is the pseudonym for the New York Times bestselling author of the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and, together with her sister, wrote the Art Lover’s Mystery series as Hailey Lind. The first in the series, Feint of Art, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. She is also the author of the novels Letters from Paris and The Paris Key. As owner of her own faux-finish and design studio, the author has spent many days and nights on construction sites renovating beautiful historic homes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for the Art Lover’s Mysteries by Juliet Blackwell Writing as Hailey Lind

Brush with Death

“Lind deftly combines a smart and witty sleuth with entertaining characters who are all engaged in a fascinating new adventure. Sprinkled in are interesting snippets about works of art and the art world, both the beauty and its dirty underbelly.”—Romantic Times

 

Shooting Gallery

“Lind’s latest creatively combines mystery, humor, and interesting art tidbits. The unique characters—including aging art forgers, art thieves, and drug smugglers—add depth to this well-plotted cozy.”—Romantic Times

“If you enjoy Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy series, or Ian Pears’s art history mysteries . . . then you will enjoy Shooting Gallery. . . . The book is a fun romp through San Francisco’s art scene with some romance and a couple murders and car chases thrown in for good measure.”—Gumshoe

“An artfully crafted new mystery series!”

—Tim Myers, Agatha Award-nominated author of A Mold for Murder

“The art world is murder in this witty and entertaining mystery!”

—Cleo Coyle, national bestselling author of Espresso Shot

 

Feint of Art

“Annie Kincaid is a wonderful cozy heroine. . . . It’s a rollicking good read.”—Mystery News

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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

First Printing, July 2009

 

Copyright © Julie Goodson-Lawes, 2009

ISBN: 9781101082171

All rights reserved

 

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

 

 

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Epigraph

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

 

Author’s Note

An Exciting Preview of A Cast-Off Coven

An Exciting Preview of If Walls Could Talk

An Exciting Preview of The Paris Key

About the Author

To Aunt Mem,
my first (and favorite) witchy woman

Acknowledgments

As always, special thanks are due to so many.

To my wonderful literary agent, Kristin Lindstrom, who has inordinate, obstinate faith in my writing; and Kerry Donovan, for her ongoing support and editing flair, and for encouraging me to explore my witchy ways.

To the supportive, boisterous NorCal Sisters in Crime (y’all know who you are). To Sophie Littlefield for always egging me on, and to Cornelia Read, James Calder, and Tim Maleeny for poker, dinner in bed, and long discussions of genre and mystery. I feel like I’ve been invited to sit at the cool kids’ table.

To the warm and welcoming Come as You Are (CAYA) coven in Berkeley, California; the wonderful staff of the Sacred Well on Grand Avenue; and to all those witches, sensitives, and sorcerers who spoke to me and wish to remain anonymous. Muchisimas gracias a todas las curanderas y brujas que me hablaron con confianza.

To my mother’s big, unabashedly Texan family for great expressions, bear hugs, and Southern food.

To my sister Carolyn—I missed you this go-round! Thanks for your unselfish help and laugh-out-loud suggestions. And to my sister, Susan, for her unflagging enthusiasm and novel suggestions.

Thanks to Jace, Shay, and Suzanne for their read- throughs and critiques. To Anna for all your help. And special appreciation to Bee, Pamela, Jan, Mary, Chris, Brian, the entire Mira Vista Social Club . . . and a thousand kisses to my guy Sergio.

And finally, a shout-out to Oscar, the suitably black cat, who insists that I will fall for his feline ways.

Tis the witching hour of night,
Or bed is the moon and bright,
And the stars they glisten, glisten,
Seeming with bright eyes to listen
For what listen they?

JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)

Chapter 1

Witches recognize their own.

So I could tell this customer was . . . different . . . the moment he walked into my store. Not to mention the bell on the door failed to chime.

He was gorgeous: golden hair glinting in the light of the amber sconces, eyes the blue of a perfect periwinkle, tanned skin with just a hint of whiskers inviting one’s touch. Tall and graceful, he had the too-perfect, unreal beauty seldom seen outside a movie theater. And we were a long way from Tinseltown. This was San Francisco, where “silicon” referred to computer chips, not plastic surgery. Here, people were only too real in their endearing, genuine lumpiness.

But what really drew my eye was the energy he emitted; to a witch like me, he was as conspicuous as a roaring drunk at an AA meeting.

The stranger approached, the lightness of his step suggesting a talent for sneakiness. I waited behind the horseshoe-shaped display counter and fingered the protective medicine bundle that hung from a braided string around my waist.

“Lily Ivory?”

“That’s me,” I said with a nod.

He placed an engraved business card on the glass countertop and pushed it toward me with a graceful index finger.

Aidan Rhodes—Male Witch
Magickal Assistance
Spells Cast—Curses Broken—Love Potions
Satisfaction Guaranteed
145 Jefferson Street, San Francisco

“Male witch?” My eyes wandered up, down, and across his muscular frame. “Are you often mistaken for a female?”

This was San Francisco, after all.

“Rarely, now that you mention it.” A glint of humor lit up those too-blue eyes. “But most people don’t realize men can be witches.”

“Sure they do. They just call them warlocks.”

He winced. “Warlock” means “oath breaker” in Old English, and calls to mind the men who betrayed their covens in the bad old burn-the-witches-at-the-stake days. Some male practitioners called themselves “wizards” or “sorcerers,” but most preferred “witch.” It was a solidarity thing.

There are as many different types of witches—the good, the bad, the magnificently venal—as there are familiars. Still, the vast majority of us are female. I had an inkling of the power of a traditional women’s coven, but in my experience male witches were wild cards with a tendency to stir up trouble.

Nothing about Aidan Rhodes suggested otherwise.

“Cute accent,” he said. “You twang.”

“It’s not my fault. I grew up in Texas.”

“I know. I knew your father.”

“Really.”

“We worked together.”

“Is that right?” My tone was nonchalant, but my mind was racing. Aidan Rhodes was not overtly threatening, but if my father was involved, all bets were off.

I glanced over at my coworker, Bronwyn, who was across the room preparing a concoction for a middle-aged client with a nasty case of eczema and a nastier case of an unfaithful husband. The women’s heads were bent low as Bronwyn ground up dried herbs with a wooden mortar and pestle. They appeared absorbed in the task. Too absorbed. Aidan Rhodes, male witch, must have cast a cocooning spell. If so, they wouldn’t hear a single word we said; indeed, wouldn’t be aware of his presence at all.

“It’s not every day someone like you moves into the neighborhood, much less opens a shop.” Aidan’s long, elegant fingers caressed a pile of hand-tatted lace collars in the wicker basket on the counter. “A retail store, though—that surprises me. Unusual career path for one with your . . . talents.”

“Is there a reason you’re here?” I asked, upgrading the man from a curiosity to an annoyance. I wasn’t usually so abrupt with potential customers, but it seemed unwise to use the shopkeeper’s standard greeting—May I help you?—in case I inadvertently obligated myself to him. There’s many a slip twixt cauldron and lip, my grandmother Graciela had drilled into me. Words mattered in the world of spell casting, and a slip of the tongue could have dire consequences.

“As a matter of fact, there is. I brought you a housewarming present.”

“Thank you, but that’s not necessary.”

“I’m happy to do it.”

“I’m afraid I can’t accept.”

“Oh, but I insist.”

“I said no, thank you.”

“You don’t know what it is yet.”

“That’s not the—”

“Pleased ta meetcha.”

I whirled around to find a misshapen creature perched, gargoylelike, atop an antique walnut jewelry display case. He was small and bent, with a muscular body and scaly skin, a large head, a snoutlike nose and mouth, and outsize ears like a bat’s. His fingers were long and humanlike, surprisingly graceful, but his enormous feet had three toes and long talons. His voice was deep and gravelly.

“I’m your new familiar,” it said.

“I’m afraid not; I’m a so—” I turned to give Aidan a piece of my mind, but he was gone, the door slowly swinging shut. The bell had once again failed to ring. I swore under my breath.

“A so what, mistress?”

“Excuse me?”

“Before you started swearing you said you were a so.”

“I wasn’t swearing.”

“Were, too.”

I blew out an exasperated breath. “I’m a solo act. I don’t need a familiar.”

“You’re a witch, ain’tcha? Ya gotta have a familiar.”

“Says who?”

“It’s in the handbook.”

“There is no handbook. Besides, I’m allergic to cats.”

“I’m no cat.”

“So I’ve noticed. But I’m probably allergic to . . . . creatures such as yourself, too. Run along home to your master.”

“Can’t.”

“Why not?”

“ ’ Cause you’re my master now, mistress.” The creature attempted a smile, which took shape as a grimace.

“I’m serious. Now scoot.”

The grimace fell from his gnarled greenish gray face. Had it been possible, he would have paled. “You don’t want me?”

“It’s nothing personal. I just don’t need—”

“Don’t send me away, mistress!” he begged, jumping down from the display case. Even at full height he didn’t reach my belly button. He dropped to his knobby knees and clasped his hands, gazing up at me in supplication. “Please don’t send me away. I’ll be good, mistress, I swear.”

“I can’t have a goblin in the shop!”

“I’m not exactly a goblin.”

“Gnome, then.”

“Not really a gnome, either . . .”

Whatever you are, you’ll scare away customers.”

“Howzabout a pig?”

“A pig?”

With a sudden twist of his scrawny shoulders, he transformed himself into a miniature Vietnamese pot bellied pig. He grunted, wagged his curly tail, and darted around the counter.

“Hey! Get back here, you—”

“Bless the Goddess, isn’t he sweet!” Bronwyn squealed, nearly knocking over a rack of 1950s-era chiffon prom dresses in her haste to cross the room. “Where’d he come from? I’ve always wanted one of those! George Clooney had one—did you know? They’re very smart.” Bronwyn scooped up the squealing swine and held him to her generous bosom, where, I couldn’t help but notice, he stopped kicking and snuggled right in, his pale pink snout resting on her ample cleavage. “What’s his name?”

I sighed. I had a million things to do today. Evicting a piggish gnome—or a gnomish pig—was not one of them.

“His name’s . . . Oscar,” I said off the top of my head, thinking of the Sesame Street character. The ugly little fellow seemed as if he would feel at home in a garbage can. “But he’s not mine. He’s a . . . loaner. He’s just visiting.”

Bronwyn and Oscar both ignored me.

Oscar. Aren’t you just a darling? Aren’t you Bwon wyn’s wuvey-dovey piggy-pig-pig?” She crooned to the creature in the high-pitched, goofy tone humans reserve for cherished pets and preverbal children.

Oscar snorted and rooted around in her cleavage. Bronwyn chuckled. I sighed.

A plump woman in her mid-fifties, Bronwyn had fuzzy brown hair and warm brown eyes. She favored great swaths of gauzy purple clothing, lots of Celtic jewelry, and heavy black eye makeup. The first time I saw her I couldn’t decide whether she was a delightfully free spirit or just plain nuts. Shortly after I opened my vintage clothing store, Aunt Cora’s Closet, she had approached me about renting a corner of the shop for her small herb business. I welcomed the company: Bronwyn was a so-so herbalist and an amateurish witch, but she had lived in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood since its hippie heyday and knew everyone. She would be my entrée into a new and unfamiliar city.

Besides, Bronwyn had been one of the first people I met upon my arrival in San Francisco, and she had welcomed me with open arms. Literally...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Love the vintage- not the ghosts Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her witchiness in San Francisco. It s there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically. Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780451227454

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Love the vintage- not the ghosts Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her witchiness in San Francisco. It s there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically. Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780451227454

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Love the vintage- not the ghosts Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her witchiness in San Francisco. It s there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically. Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780451227454

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