Five Dog Voodoo, by Lia Farrell: A Murder Casts Suspicion on a Closed Community

5dogFive Dog Voodoo ($15.95, 266 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-248-1) is the fifth cozy mystery by Lia Farrell in a series featuring Mae December, the successful owner of a dog boarding business in Rosedale, Tennessee, her sheriff fiancé and his staff, and her friends and family. When a young woman is found murdered near her home in the Voodoo Village, the Rosedale Sheriff’s Office is called upon to investigate.

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“Fast-paced and entertaining, this is a story cozy mystery fans shouldn’t miss. I found the combination of dogs, Voodoo, and murder mystery hard to resist and jumped at the chance to get an early look at this book. I was not disappointed[….] Although this is book five in the Mae December Mystery series, it reads well as a standalone. I was able to dive right into the story.”  Read more….

—Readeropolis

“A delight to read…. The author really knows how to keep a story moving with very interesting characters.”  Read more….

—Texas Book-aholic

4 1/2 Stars: “The situations feel real, like something pulled out of today’s headlines, and happening to normal, everyday people. The Voodoo Village was a nice touch and ups the originality of the storyline. As indicated by the title, the story always seems to hover closely around the four-legged friends and their well being. [….] The story was clean, the dialogue nice and tight, with an ending that leaves one as satisfied and happy as a recently fed puppy!” Read more….

—Clarice Silvers for InD’Tale Magazine

4 Stars: “An entertaining murder mystery with an occult twist. The novel has hints of Voodoo set in a small Tennessee town. I was impressed with the descriptions of the rituals; they gave the story a sense of realism [….] Although this is book number five in the Mae December Series, it does well as a standalone. I enjoyed reading this book and was happy to learn a little more about the voodoo religion. I recommend this book to those who love a cozy mystery.” Read more….

—Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite Reviews

Five Dog Voodoo is an excellent story, one of my favorites in the cozy mystery genre. While the title initially gave me pause, the description caught my interest—and I’ve discovered what looks to be a great series. It’s extremely well written, with no unnecessary descriptions or repetition of thoughts as filler, and moves at a quick pace. Setting is atmospheric, plot is multilayered, and an appealing ensemble cast adds much depth. This book can stand alone, but I’m eager to read the four previous stories and hope for more to come.”  Read more….

—The Power of Words Blog

“I had all kinds of fun with this story…. It’s a lovely mess of reelection campaigns, murder, and voodoo in Tennessee…. I have several requirements I expect from a cozy mystery. It needs a small town setting. Check. A quirky title and fun cover art. Check. Unusual character names and a bit of romance. Check. A mystery not too easily solved. Check. And some kind of theme. Check. And it’s always a pleasant bonus to have some furry companions too. I had a really fun read and plan to go back and start at the beginning. I need to see what I’ve missed. But, if you start the series here, you’ll have no problem enjoying this all by itself.”  Read more….

—FU Only Knew Blog: Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews

“This book has a bit of everything. There is love, friendship, small town quaintness, politics, murder both past and present, and voodoo. I love small towns and I love reading about them[….] I really enjoyed this book[….] Will be on the lookout for more books by Lia Farrell.”  Read more….

—T’s Stuff

“This book had everything—small towns, adventure, mystery, and so much more. I haven’t read the previous books in this series but after this one I definitely will, as the writer did a fabulous job writing about voodoo which you don’t hear much about in such detail. Can’t wait to see what is next!”  Read more….

—Paula Mitchell for Community Bookstop

As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben’s campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff’s office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case. In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben’s smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.

Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman’s body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley’s unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory’s front door, effectively banning her from the case.

Evangeline and the sheriff’s office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben’s job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.

The first four books in the Mae December Mystery series, One Dog Too Many, Two Dogs Lie Sleeping, Three Dog Day, and Four Dog’s Sake have been enthusiastically received by readers and critics:

Four Dog’s Sake: “There is a lot of action in this book, and the author gives a wonderful view of the motivation of a real killer. This is one fast-paced cozy that keeps you on your toes.”
—Suspense Magazine

“This fourth book in the Mae December series is a delight to read. An eclectic cast of characters take a murder mystery on an interesting spin making for a humorous and adventurous mystery. The icing on the cake is the adorable dogs.” —Coffee Time Romance & More

Three Dog Day is a wonderful cozy mystery, and a great addition to a lovely series. It is sure to offer a lot of entertainment for mystery fans.” —Long and Short Reviews

Two Dogs Lie Sleeping: “This series is now one of my firm favorites and I’m really excited to see where she takes the series next.” —Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

One Dog Too Many: “A lively tale with plenty of twists, turns, and unexpected situations to satisfy the most ardent cozy mystery lover.” —Fresh Fiction

The series will continue in 2017.

Lia Farrell is the pen name of the mother and daughter writing team of Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons, who live in Michigan and Tennessee, respectively. Both are life-long readers who are also dog lovers. Lyn owns a Welsh corgi and Lisa has a Siberian husky. Lisa works as a Muralist and Interior Designer and Lyn is a Professor Emerita of Medical Education who has retired to write full-time. For more information, click here.

Says Lisa, “We wanted to write a book that took place at Halloween; a perfect time of year for a cozy mystery. We were also intrigued by the inherent challenges of solving a murder in a closed society such as a Voodoo village. Somewhere in the city of Memphis, Tennessee, there is an actual Voodoo village with a listed address that is almost impossible to find. Street signs have been removed, the road names have been changed, and the feeling of mystery in the area is heightened by overgrown trees. For the purposes of Five Dog Voodoo, we moved the Voodoo village to Rose County. Get ready to be spooked!”

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Mira Canja inserted the key into the lock of the yellow house. It turned with a click and Evangeline heard loud barking and howling coming from inside.

“Wait here. I need to go in first,” Mira said. “The dog is jumpy, protective of her babies.”

In just a few minutes, she came back out and opened the door to let the threesome inside.

“What’s the dog’s name?” Evangeline asked.

“Erzulie,” Mira said.

“The Voodoo goddess of fertility … very appropriate.” Evangeline smiled at her.

The house lacked a proper entryway. The front door led directly into a kitchen open to the living room. The kitchen walls had been painted a gray blue that contrasted nicely with the sunflower-yellow cabinets. The upper cabinets had glass fronts and Evangeline could see dark-blue dishes inside. Although Evangeline lacked the detectives’ experience, she seriously doubted this was a crime scene. The house smelled clean.

Wayne and Rob walked through the kitchen and into the living room, skirting the mother dog in her bed. Erzulie rose up, growling, and Mira called her into the kitchen.

“She’s beautiful.” Evangeline admired the silvery fur and pale yellow eyes of the mother dog. The dog whined and pushed against Mira Canja’s hand. “I think she wants to go outside.”

“I know. I’ve been taking her out several times a day, but always on a leash. The way she pulls, I’m afraid if I let her off she will bolt. She knows where Zoé is—I’m sure of it. I had a dream the other night that Zoé was here in the village, held captive against her will.” The woman took a shaky breath.

Evangeline shivered. She could hear Wayne and Rob’s footsteps as they ascended the staircase to check the upstairs rooms. “Clear,” she heard Rob say. There was no one else in the house.

“I’ll take the dog outside if you like,” Evangeline offered.

“If she will go with you, that’s fine, but don’t let go of the leash. She’s stronger than she looks.”

“Come on, Miss Erzulie, let’s go out.” Mira handed her a red leather leash and Evangeline clipped it to the dog’s collar. They walked across the bare wood floors, through the sparsely furnished living room. Looking through the windows at the back of the house, Evangeline saw a screened-in porch, a wild backyard, and the shadowed woods. The sun was low, and even though it was only early afternoon, the shadows had turned the pine trees a deep forest green, nearly black.

She opened the door to the porch, which ran across the whole back of the house. The dog was pulling now, hard. “Erzulie, stop that,” she said just as she tripped over a flower pot and fell down on the floor. In that instant, the dog pushed through the door, tearing the corner of the screen. Like a ghost, she vanished.

“Are you all right?” Mira asked as she helped Evangeline to her feet.

“I am,” Evangeline said, brushing off her pants. “I’m sorry, the dog got away.” Wayne and Rob clattered down the stairs.

“What happened?” Rob asked.

“Nothing. I just tripped, but the dog got outside. Ms. Canja is afraid she’ll run away in search of Zoé.” They could hear the dog barking and then a long horrible howl, a wail of near human pain. Evangeline could hardly breathe.

“We’ll go after her,” Wayne said brusquely. The two men moved toward the sound of the crying dog.

“I’m coming with you,” Evangeline said. Following the men, she glanced back once at Mira Canja, who stood frozen in place. The wind rose and a sudden patter of rain hit the tin roof of the yellow house. The dog continued to moan and cry. They crossed the coarse grass and had reached the edge of the forest when Rob flicked on his flashlight. The beam hit Erzulie’s yellow eyes. The dog’s front legs were bent down in a crouching position but her head was held high as she gave vent to her anguish.

“Stay back,” Wayne said, holding out an arm to stop Evangeline. “You probably don’t want to see this.”

Evangeline came to a halt, staring at the grieving dog. Wayne pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket and knelt down. Unable to keep still another moment, Evangeline moved forward to grab for the red leather leash that was still attached to Erzulie’s collar.

“Erzulie, come away from there,” Evangeline said and tugged on the leash. She didn’t want the dog interfering with the work the detectives were doing. She was breathing raggedly, terribly afraid of what they would see. The men were both bending down now, moving dried leaves and some dirt aside.

“It’s the girl,” Wayne said. Rob walked unsteadily away toward the left side of the property. Evangeline could hear him retching into the weeds.

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