Second-Hand Murder is the first book in The Bandit Hills Series and is also the very first paranormal cozy mystery to come out from Summer Prescott Books. As a fan of paranormal mysteries, and a writer of paranormal mysteries myself, I can say I was not disappointed at all with this book.
The story follows Cassie, the owner of a quaint little second-hand shop in the small Tennessee town of Bandit Hills. Bandit Hills is a well know hot spot for supernatural occurrences, and most of the town's citizens are used to a little spookiness in their day-to-day lives.
One fateful morning Cassie receives a strange donation to the shop--a little brown box. The box contains a small voodoo doll as well as a picture of a young woman whom Cassie has never met.
Cassie, being a very curious woman, decides she is going to try and figure out who the woman is. Enlisting the help of her PI fried Dash they quickly realize that Cassie recently died of mysterious causes. The two curious investigators go to work to solve the mystery of how the woman died before it is too late for them as well.
Second-Hand Murder had me hooked from the very beginning and didn't let me go until the very end. Merrin does an excellent job of creating a vibrant and real world for the story. Her descriptions of the characters--especially Cassie and Dash--and of the town of Bandit Falls make me want to go and visit this little fictional town. From the second-hand shop, to the diner, to the fortune teller's store everything in this world is perfect for the setting and mood of the story.
I was particularly impressed with the creative method in which the mystery was executed. The use of classic voodoo theology--as it is often seen in film and media--was a pitch perfect basis for the mystery. I was particularly excited when I saw a reference to the non-fiction novel The Serpent and the Rainbow. I myself have read The Serpent and the Rainbow, simply because I find the concepts of real voodoo as a religion and the culture surrounding voodoo fascinating. (I blame my mother for showing me classic voodoo themed movies such as I Walked With A Zombie, King of the Zombies and White Zombie when I was little.)
This clue alone, along with many other voodoo references, set my mind spinning with ideas of where the mystery could resolve. In the end, however, I was still pleasantly surprised by the answer because I didn't see it coming. My conclusion was vastly different than the one that actually occurred. This is always an excellent indicator that the story, as well of the rest of the series, will be top notch.
Second-Hand Murder is an wonderful beginning to a new series, and I would encourage any fans of the cozy genre, especially the supernatural cozy, to check it out. I myself purchased a physical paperback copy of the book. It is a beautiful book that has a fantastic cover. If you have the extra cash I'd encourage you to pick up the physical copy over the e-book if possible.
All-in-all Second-Hand Murder is a perfect start to a fun new series.