This is the first book in this series I have read and as far as I know, the first book by Leslie Meier I have been exposed to, although that is sort of problematic. I ready so many of these books that are classified as "cozy mysteries" that I tend to get my authors a bit mixed up - a result of my slowly slipping into my dotage.
Anyway, I picked this on up at the library after a recommendation from a good friend and fellow reviewer here on Amazon who has never lead me astray with her suggestions. I did not start with the first book in the series which is my usually practice - there are two reasons for this. First, our library, like most libraries these days, is suffering through rough economic times and as the politicians like to hit library funding first, our library simply cannot afford to buy all the books in any one given series. Secondly, I have found if I read the fifth, sixth or such book in a series and I like it, then the chances are pretty good that I will like the entire series. I have to tell you right now that I enjoyed this work very much and it contained all the elements in a cozy that I look for - more about that later.
The story takes place in a small town in Maine. Our central character, Lucy, is a reporter for the little weekly newspaper and is quite involved with her community. The main plot in this work revolves around a new member of the community, a self professed witch who has opened a small store specializing is books, herbs and such and she gives little "seminars" on witch craft and readings.
Lucy discovers the body of a man in the woods near her home that has died a rather ghastly death and begins investigating.
Now I will admit right now that the plot of this story is rather simple and the outcome is indeed, as others have pointed out, sort of predictable. Personally I could careless about this aspect of the story. I do not read these cozies for complicated murders, graphic violence, non-stop action and trying to figure out shaded and obscure clues as to "who done it." No, for me a cozy either makes you feel, well...cozy and allows you to share the lives of a family or small community or it doesn't; those that don't, I don't read. I like colorful characters and quaint settings. If I want complicated and complex murder mysteries there are thousands upon thousands available and when the mood strikes me, I seek them out.
This is a rather mellow read. I must say that even though this one is classified as a "cozy" I found the author's observations of human nature, community and family interaction and general "attitude" just as interesting as the mystery itself.
Each of us has our own reading requirements and we are lucky in this day and age to have so many great works available. If we do not like one, then we have plenty of others to choose from. This particular novel suited my purposes perfectly and I will now proceed to read others by this author and this series.
Let me address one point that seems to be a sticking point with several readers. This revolves around the fact that Lucy allowed an almost complete stranger to move into her house for a bit while the stranger faced a certainly amount of danger. While this may not be the brightest thing a person could do, there are those of us that would indeed do such a thing. As a matter of fact my wife and I have done just that several times over the years; from battered women, to slight acquaintances having hard times, to folks that simply needed a helping hand and an ear to bend, so this was not all that shocking to me personally. But he, that is just us...we are who we are and more or less have to follow our nature.
I did like this book!