There are three traditional ways to kill a witch: hang her, drown her or burn her.
However, her last partner, Mark Howitt, is not a Magick seeker. He is selected by Leila in a pub and taken to her flat purely, he assumes, for sex. Immediately afterwards, he passes out from too much booze. On awakening, he is terrified to find Leila dead; hanging in a room with a black cat and twenty-seven hanging Barbie dolls. He flees, unsure if he might in fact be the perpetrator, leaving his DNA behind.
If you are reading this, then I am dead.
Sifting through the pathology is forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod. On the case is alcoholic DS Michael McNab. We are frequently reminded that these two have history embedded in earlier novels in the series. In this story they are the main protagonists. Lin Anderson crafts her prime characters beautifully. They are as warm blooded and fragile, or as fierce and angry, as well known friends.
Some people know too much.
The barman at the pub in Glasgow where Mark and his friend were drinking may know something. Leila’s younger brother, Danny, fearing for his sister’s safety, installs a camera, but the pictures show little. Just a clue or too…
Leila’s best friend and fellow witch, Shannon Jones, does know something.
Freya Devine is only an acquaintance, but she is also not only a Wiccan, she works at the same place as do Leila and Shannon – the University Library, which has one of the world’s best collections of ancient books on the Occult.
Three witches. Hung, drowned, burned to death.
It has a convoluted, well crafted, mostly convincing plot. Certain coincidences were puzzling and not entirely explained, unless I got the bull by the udder. However, the flow is smooth and well-distributed, albeit a little slow at times. Unnecessary and repetitive emphasis is put on exactly what the characters were consuming, gastronomically.
Coffee and double strength coffee. Perhaps tea is no longer drunk in Scotland?
Regardless, I found The Special Dead very readable, and recommendable.
Thanks to Becky Fincham and MACMILLAN for my copy, and for being included in their blog tour.
The Special Dead by Lin Anderson, August 2015, 448 pages, Macmillan, ISBN: 1447298314