Author: Juliet Blackwell
Title: Hexes and Hemlines
First lines: "It didn't take a witch to figure out something was very, very wrong on the thirteenth floor of the Doppler Building. ... I took a deep breath and concentrated on not losing my lunch. Most days I deal in vintage clothing, not corpses. I may be a natural-born witch, but I'm no more comfortable around violent death than any other mortal merchant on Haight Street."
Hexes and Hemlines is a fun mix of witchcraft and murder mystery. Lily Ivory, who owns a vintage clothing shop called Aunt Cora's Closet, gets called in to consult on the murder of a man named Malachi Zazi, mostly because he's found surrounded by several symbols of bad luck. The detective on the case knows she's a witch and hopes she can explain what all those symbols might mean. But the more questions Lily asks, the more people keep telling her to back off--from Aiden, the powerful witch who's been training her, to Bronwyn, her close work friend, as well as another witch named Doura who threatens Lily if she doesn't leave well enough alone.
Lily leads a complicated life, and as I read this mystery I found myself wishing several times that I'd read the previous two books in this series first. It would have helped me sort out her various acquaintances and tangled relationships. But my library didn't have any copies of those books sitting on the B shelf. Only this one. And Blackwell did a pretty good job of catching me up on Lily's life.
I thought the magic and witchcraft in this book was a lot of fun. And Lily's familiar, Oscar, made me smile. He's a goblin who pretends to be a pot-bellied pig when regular humans are around. But I felt the mystery itself got a little lost in the confusion of all the different characters. Still, I liked it. And I wouldn't mind trying another book in this paranormal mystery series at some point.