A psychic has been murdered in an occult ceremony and the police pay a visit to Riga Hayworth, metaphysical detective. But this time, she’s not a consultant on the case, she’s a suspect.
There’s a storm on the horizon. Riga’s lost her magic, and has come to Lake Tahoe to recover and spend quality time with her new love. But life for Riga is never that simple. A psychic’s been murdered, and the police believe Riga has a connection to the crime. They’re right. And if that’s not enough, Riga is drafted as the host of a reality TV show about the local lake monster, and her niece is rejecting her metaphysical abilities. Juggling demons, daimons, and angry tarot card readers, Riga must catch a killer before she becomes the next target.
The Alchemical Detective is a paranormal mystery that explores a world of alchemy and the imagination.
The egg quivered, then rolled, seemingly of its own accord, to the edge of the counter.
Riga stared at it, her violet-colored eyes narrowed in concentration. Magic, she reminded herself, was a matter of will and she had that in spades. However, it was also a matter of focus and in this area, she was lacking.
The egg trembled, then slowly rose into the air; one inch, two inches, five.
“Yes,” Brigitte said encouragingly, her voice a French-accented Lauren Bacall. Her stone claws tensed, gouging tracks in the linoleum countertop.
The egg exploded, splattering the gargoyle with shell and yolk.
Brigitte shrieked, the sound of rocks scraping against each together. “Faugh! Water! Bring ze water!”
Riga hurried to the sink and turned on the tap, frustration wrinkling her brow. She grabbed a dishtowel and soaked it in warm water. Her hands trembled and Riga swore under her breath. Two months ago, this would have been easy.
At first she’d thought her magic was gone. Now Riga knew it had gone haywire and her rehab attempts weren’t working. If anything, her magic had become more unpredictable, more dangerous. She only dared practice with Brigitte because the centuries-old gargoyle was made of stone. But even Brigitte wasn’t indestructible.
Someone beat upon the front door and Riga whipped around, startled. She should have sensed whoever was coming up the steps. Another small failure. More pounding; the cheap wooden door vibrated beneath the blows.
“Police! Open the door!”
Gargoyle and woman looked at each other. Woman acted first. Riga tossed the towel in the sink. “Don’t move,” she said to Brigitte.
“But ze egg. It dries like cement,” Brigitte wailed.
“Later.” Riga hurried to the door and flung it open. A chilly blast of pine-scented air swept inside, tossing Riga’s auburn hair and stinging her skin.
Two sheriffs stood before her in wide brimmed hats and heavy dark brown parkas. Riga might have taken them for rangers had it not been for their belts, strapped with weapons, slung low on their hips. The older one had his fist raised for another round of door pummeling. He lowered it with what looked like regret. He was bulky, bearlike, with steel blue eyes, and she imagined he enjoyed making the door shiver beneath his fist. The tag under his badge read: Sheriff John King. The badge itself: El Dorado County.
“I heard a woman scream,” King said.
“I banged my shin on the coffee table,” Riga said.
“Are you alone?” He peered over Riga’s shoulder. It wasn’t hard – Riga was five foot six, and he stood well over six feet tall, imposing in every direction.
“Yes. Can I help you?” Riga didn’t budge, unwilling to let them in. It wasn’t that Riga didn’t like cops; she was friends with plenty of them, when they were out of uniform.
“It was quite a scream,” he said.
She quirked her lips. “Now you’re just embarrassing me.”
The Sheriff looked at her. She returned his gaze. The silence stretched between them.
The Deputy coughed. “Are you Ms. Hayworth?” he asked. Riga figured him for his early thirties, which meant she had a decade on him. He was well built, and between the startling pale blue of his eyes and the chiseled planes of his face, would have looked at home on a magazine cover. But Riga’s gaze was drawn to the Sheriff. The Deputy had youth, the Sheriff had presence.
“I’m Riga Hayworth.”
“My name is Night, Deputy Night. May we come in? Please?” He smiled ruefully, exposing dimples and gleaming white teeth. “It’s kind of cold out here.”
Riga hesitated. But she wasn’t wearing a coat and was freezing in the doorway. She could feel the heat from the cabin oozing past her, out the door. “Okay.” Reluctantly, she stepped back, and allowed them past her.
Hands resting on the butts of their guns, they prowled the room as if they owned the place. They could have it, for all Riga cared. It was one of the lower-end tourist cabins, crammed with a mis-matched jumble of seventies era furniture. A giant picture window looked out upon a forest scene: pines, and patches of snow wetting the ground. The afternoon sun slanted low in the sky, sending beams of light glittering through damp tree branches.
Brigitte, still covered in egg, had shifted to face the cabin’s small living room. The deputy stared at the gargoyle, walked to Brigitte, and ran his hands across her stony feathers as if in a caress. Brigitte would love that, Riga thought.
“Cool harpy,” he said. “Where’d you find it?”
Night tucked his hat under one arm, and ruffled his blond hair with his free hand. “Do you know it’s got egg on it?”
“Forget the statue,” the Sheriff barked. Turning, he stumbled over a cheap American-Indian themed rug. “Miss Hayworth, may we sit down?”
She indicated the lumpy sofa, a cruel gesture given the state of its springs, but she didn’t want them to linger.
1. Writing about witches and witchcraft is so much fun! When did your fascination begin?
Since I was a little kid - I wanted so badly for magic to be real, but I guess most kids do. But I became seriously interested in it when I was overseas, working in developing countries where magic and superstition was a much larger part of the average person's life.
2. What are some of your favorite witchy movies and books?
Okay, Harry Potter is marvelous. And I thought the Bewitched movie from a few years back was charming, but for a more serious/dramatic take on witchcraft, I really enjoyed a book called The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe. It jumps back and forth between the Salem witch trials and a modern day mystery, and the writing is excellent.
3. What is the funniest scene you ever wrote?
I think there are a lot of funny moments in the books, but I can't think of an entire comedy scene! Pretty much anything with Brigitte the gargoyle is funny - she's so full of herself. And Vinnie the ghost from The Metaphysical Detective was another character I enjoyed writing. He was such a smart ass. Riga actually plays straight man to several of the characters in the books.
4. Riga is an amazing character. What inspired you to write about a witch who loses her magic?
First, thank you! I like Riga too. I think one of the lures of magic is it's seen as an easy fix for problems. But I didn't want Riga to have an easy fix - there would be no story! Besides, Riga's magical problems drive Brigitte nuts, because now she's the familiar to a witch who isn't very good at magic. It's a huge come down for the gargoyle.
5. Do you have a favorite psychic show?
Though I'm friends with several psychics and magical practitioners in my area, I'm suspicious of most of the "real" psychics on TV. That said, I watch a lot of Ghost Whisperer re-runs, though she's a medium rather than a psychic. And I love the concept behind the show Psych - someone with Sherlock Holmes-style skills who pretends he's psychic to solve crimes.
6. Are you a true crime fan? What authors or shows do you watch regularly?
Not really - true crime is too depressing. I prefer fiction, where the bad guys get their just desserts. That doesn't always happen in real life.
7. Are you a plot liner or a seat of your pants kind of writer?
I usually get about half way through an outline, get stuck, and just start writing. I wish I could do more outlining, because I do waste time going back and changing things, but my brain just doesn't seem to work that way.
8. Bewitched vs. Harry Potter?
Harry Potter. The world JK Rowlings created is timeless... and so detailed! I've re-read each of the books over and over.
9. Practical Magic vs. The Witches?
10. What piece of advice would you give anyone who is aspiring to become a writer?
Just keep writing! Writing is one of those things that you just have to practice at.
What I Liked:
This story was a fun and original mystery with a witchy twist. I loved Riga's character and the play on the movie star angle. The gargoyle in the opening scene was great. A witch having her powers going awry is a great plot and when you combine that with a murder investigation and characters like Riga, you are in for a treat!!
What I Didn't:
Not a thing.
This story reminds me of cozy mysteries that I love, with the witchy twist that makes a story irresistible. Brigitte, the gargoyle was a nice touch, and having a witch with wonky magic makes things pretty unpredictable and I like that. The magical elements, romance, family drama and a dash of murder thrown in make this a book that really grabbed my attention. I did not feel lost that I read this one first, even though it is the second in the series. *( The first book was great too) Kirsten Weiss does a great job recapping just enough so you can latch onto the story without making it too obvious. The plot moves, dialogue is believable, action well done and in all an enjoyable read. I will be reading this whole series and can't wait to get the third one!!
Kirsten Weiss is the author of two paranormal mysteries available on the Kindle: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, and The Alchemical Detective. She is hard at work on the sequel, The Shamanic Detective.
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching True Blood and drinking good wine.
Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/RigaHayworth, view her world boards on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/kirstenweiss/or check out her blog at http://kirstenweiss.com
Author site/blog: http://kirstenweiss.com