Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry


Net Galley – Jan 24, 2017

Publisher: Crown (January 24, 2017)    ISBN-13: 978-1101905609

Being from Massachusetts, I realized that THE FIFTH PETAL was set in the sea town of Salem, and knew I would have to read it.    What really surprised me was not only did the majority of the tome take place in Salem, but there were some scenes that took place in Northampton and Amherst which was where I grew up.   Naturally them for me, it was easy to find myself traveling right along with the characters walking and driving the roads and highways right along with them.

The focus of the story was on unsolved and mysterious murders.  The story begins with a teenage boy on Halloween harassing an older homeless woman, Rose Whelan, who had been accused of being a witch.  After Rose warned him to leave her alone it and the boy persisted he ends up dead,  suspiciously killed where witnesses couldn’t tell how it happened.   Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney (see THE LACE READER), wonders if there is a connection to the young boys death and the unsolved cold case from 1989 where three beautiful young women were mysteriously killed and dubbed “The Goddess Murders”.  The interesting part was all three of the victims were descended from accused Salem witches and once again it happened on Halloween night.  Fortunately for Rafferty, he finds unexpected help from Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who was there as a child when the murders of the Goddesses occurred.  Most want to lay the blame on Rose Whelan a respected historian who has never been the same since the murders occurred.   Callie and Rafferty both believe Rose is innocent of those crimes.

Trying to find the real killer means going back and possibly crossing paths with a real evil as they try to discover whether this was human vengeance or dangerous and vile black arts.

Bottom line:   THE FIFTH PETAL was really good with fleshed out characters who were trying to live life after some very traumatic events from their pasts.  There were many people who all played active roles in the suspense and uncovered many secrets that governed so many lives in Salem.   Pace was steady and the ending was both satisfying and somewhat surprising.

Marilyn Rondeau

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