Book Review of Carol J. Perry's Look Both Ways

Genre – Cozy Mystery
Series: A Witch City Mystery
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (October 27, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1617733734

Look Both Ways by Carol J. Perry is the third book in Witch City Mystery series. Lee Barett teaches television production during the school year so to keep busy for the summer; she has volunteered to locate props for the drama program. With the reconstruction of her apartment after the fire complete, Lee is looking forward to furnishing it. She finds a bureau identical to one she loved as a child, complete with hidden compartments in a local antique store. The bureau comes from the estate of Helena Trent, a socialite presumed to have been killed by her husband.

Not long after purchasing the bureau, she returns only to discover the body of the shop keeper. Turns out the bureau comes complete with a mystery. Helena was known to possess a priceless pink diamond, but it disappeared upon her death. This prompts the question, do either of the murders have anything to do with the missing bauble?

I must admit while I am a fan of Carol J. Perry and her cozy town of Salem, Massachusetts, Look Both Ways felt at times both confusing and boring.  The book definitely had potential combining murders, secret compartments, missing jewelry, puzzles and lots of suspects but the characters fell flat, even Lee and O’Ryan felt like strangers. I doubt I would have finished the book if I wasn’t already a fan of the series. Throughout the book it becomes apparent that the killer will do anything to get the diamond but with so many suspects the police don't know where to look and neither did I. Her friend’s very convenient tarot reading warns her of a blond man leading you to consider Shea's estranged business partner? There is also Tommy Trent, Helena's husband newly released from jail? And of course Helena's stepson from her first marriage?  I usually enjoy a litany of options when it comes to the bad guy, but the scenarios were either drawn out or too vague. Lee begins investigating; using her developing psychic powers. The premise sounds wonderful unfortunately, the visions were boring—a woman on a beach with a dog. They weren’t particularly descriptive and nothing about them pulled me there despite being completely tied to the end. This is the opposite of how I felt when reading Carol’s first book in the series. Unfortunately, there were many unrelated and unnecessary elements to the plot that outright distracted and confused me. Things like the dream interpretation, the Feng shui, her new apartment, and of course the repetitive and stilted conversations.
The end was more interesting than the first three quarters but the two felt disconnected which is why I have to give it three witchy tarrot cards out of five. There were just too many elements that didn’t cohesively fit. I really did enjoy Carol’s previous books so I have high hopes for her next book.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.

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In Salem, Massachusetts, there are secret everywhere--even in the furniture. . .
When Lee Barrett spots the same style oak bureau she once had as a child on the WICH-TV show, Shopping Salem, she rushes to the antiques shop and buys the piece. Just like the beloved bureau she lost in a fire, this one has secret compartments. It also comes with an intriguing history--it was purchased in an estate sale from a home where a famous local murder took place.

The day after the bureau is delivered, Lee returns to the antiques shop and finds the owner dead. The police suspect the shop owner's unscrupulous business partner, but Lee wonders if the murder is connected to her new furniture. At least part of the answer may be revealed through a mirror in the bureau, tarnished and blackened, allowing Lee to tap into her psychic visions. Using this bureau of investigation, Lee may be able to furnish her policeman beau with the evidence needed to catch the killer--before the next one to be shut up is her. . .

Carol J. Perry knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer. A voracious reader, whose list for Santa consisted mostly of book titles, she never lost sight of that goal. While living in Florida, Carol was on assignment for Southern Travel Magazine, preparing an article on the world’s tallest sand castle which was being built near her home. That combination of events inspired her first young adult novel, Sand Castle Summer. That book was soon followed by half a dozen more. Always an avid reader of mysteries, Carol Perry’s debut mystery novel is set in Salem and involves a mysterious cat, several witches and some strange Halloween happenings. Appropriately enough, this Salem-born author celebrates her birthday on Halloween eve!


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