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WITCH HUNT


By Shirley Damsgaard

Avon, 2007 ($6.99)
ISBN: 978-0-06-114711-1

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Librarian/psychic/witch Ophelia Jensen is starting to feel comfortable with her life, helped by grandmother Abby to learn how to properly use her talents. She is happy when her foster daughterís guardian decides to let her have custody of Titania, "Tink" for short. Her malicious Aunt Julia, who tried to use Tinkís psychic powers for evil, is safely locked up in a mental hospital. Tink is learning to control her gifts, but she has a long way to go in knowing how to use them correctly.

Ophelia agrees to go with her best friend Darci to meet her cousin Becca, and is dismayed when the flamboyant young woman takes a shine to a biker. She has to be the designated driver when Becca and her new flame move the party from a local bar owned by Abbyís manfriend Arthur to the Viper Pit, a rough and tumble den of inequity. Becca disappears, and later turns up in a very compromising position, caught seemingly red-handed with a corpse. She claims to have no memory of what happened, and Darci and Ophelia set out to find the truth. Darciís new boyfriend, Danny, is a cop, and tells them to keep out of it, but does that stop them? Of course not. Ophelia is unhappy with Darciís choice, but the girl is not known for being sensible in matters of the heart. Danny is controlling and manipulative, and he is squelching Darciís bubbly spirit, but when she tries to tactfully express her doubts about Danny, her friend does not take it well.

As Ophelia presses on, she gets the feeling she is being watched. When someone breaks in and trashes her office/meditation room, she suspects the stalker is Cobra, a steely-eyed member of El Serpiente, the biker gang thatís causing trouble all over town. Every time she turns around, he seems to be nearby, watching her with those cold gray eyes. Ophelia finds reason to believe one or two of the bikers were involved in the murder of two young hitchhikers in California several years ago, and she thinks Cobra may be their killer. She needs protection beyond her own psychic abilities, but wonít buy a gun. Arthur gifts her with his weapon of choice, a Louisville Slugger, and with that and a suitable curse she thinks she can handle the toughest assailant.

All is not as it seems, and when a tearful Tink reveals that sheís been messing with a forbidden Ouija board and conjured up an angry ghost, some things start to fall into place. The ghost refuses to leave until his murder is solved -- one of the most original reasons for an amateur sleuth to get involved.

This is the fourth in the Ophelia and Abby mystery series, and fans wonít be disappointed. The woo woo factor is handled well, the characters are well developed, and the story is nicely cozy.

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