4 out of 4 stars
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A man is found dead in his flaming car behind the Bella Vita hair salon, and evidence left at the scene lead the authorities to believe that a Wiccan coven might be involved. Emlyn Good, writer and faithful Bella Vita customer, hopes to get her creative juices flowing by doing some investigating of her own, and she isn't about to let the handsome Detective Roger Frye get in her way. However, Emlyn is motivated by much more than a writing deadline: the possible involvement of witches touches Emelyn on a personal level, and she wants to make certain that innocent people are not falsely accused.
A classic mystery with a supernatural twist, Bella Vita: An Emlyn Good Murder Mystery draws the reader into the fascinating world of the title character, who is a descendant of one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. With the aid of her ancestor's journal, a friend schooled in the art of witchcraft, and an unusually intelligent cat, Emlyn dives head-first into the peculiar circumstances surrounding this mystery.
Although only sixty-one pages in length, Bella Vita delivers a well-crafted and satisfying mystery. Light, humorous, and thoroughly engrossing, this book is perfect for both avid and reluctant readers. Susan Lynn Solomon's writing style makes the little town of Niagara Falls come alive, and populates it with characters that are surprisingly detailed for the short length of the book. Emlyn herself is a realistic protagonist who I found to be both likable and relatable.
In addition to providing an entertaining story, Bella Vita also rekindled my interest in the history of Salem, Massachusetts. Ms. Solomon provided a few interesting tidbits about the infamous witch trials that made me curious to know more, and I've spent a fair amount of time Googling certain things within the book that captured my interest. I love a good story, and I love learning new things, so I commend Ms. Solomon for letting me have both!
My absolute favorite aspect of Bella Vita is the relationship between Emlyn and Elvira, her domineering albino cat. I don't want to spoil the fun of it by providing details, but I loved the interaction between these two! Elvira is an enigmatic creature, and I do wonder if there is much more to her than meets the eye. Fortunately, Bella Vita is not the author's only story about Emlyn Good, and I'm hoping that she reveals a little more about Elvira in other books.
I found Bella Vita to be fun and entertaining, and I am giving it 4 out of 4 stars. This book will be a treat for those who enjoy mysteries, and I believe that female readers in general will relate well to Emelyn.
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