A Flame In The Wind Of Death (Abbott & Lowell)
by Jen J. Danna with Ann Vanderlaan
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432828097
Date: 18 April 2014 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A serial killer is loose in Salem, Massachusetts, in time for the Samhain celebration of Salem witches. The festival draws many tourists, and the authorities want the killer caught before another death occurs. Matt Lowell, a forensic anthropologist, is called in to autopsy the badly burned corpse of the first victim. He insists that Leigh Abbot, a trooper with the State Police, be assigned the case, antagonizing the police office already assigned.
The woman and her dog both died before the start of the fire that consumed the shop. The killer used the victim's own athame, a double bladed knife used in Wiccan ceremonies, to murder her. At first, the authorities suspect another Wiccan killed her. A pentacle had been nailed to the door where the death occurred.
Using the athame, Leigh learns the victim's name, Moira Simpson, and her relationship with a local coven. No one liked her. She resigned when she discovered there was no hierarchy in the coven and no way to enforce her beliefs on members. Wealthy, she usually managed to get her own way, but not this time.
When another murder occurs, fire is again used to destroy evidence.
An exciting climax risks the lives of Matt and Leigh as they struggle to prevent another killing and to keep the murderer alive. The authors leave enough loose end for another Abbot and Lowell Forensic Mystery.
Various terms used by firefighters head each chapter. Considerable detail is supplied on firefighting and the danger involved. The forensic analysis of burned bodies and how the fire started reveals much about the crime.
The first Abbot and Lowell mystery, Dead, Without a Stone to Tell It was followed by No One Sees Me Till I Fall (Nov 2013), A Flame in the Wind of Death (May 2013). The forthcoming Two Parts Bloody Murder will surely have more to follow.