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Death at Solstice

I can honestly say Death at Solstice by Lucha Copri has taught me something. I like mystery novels. I’ve avoided reading them if I could for most of my life because I thought I didn’t like them. Now, this is not the first mystery I’ve read, but it did confirm that I enjoy the genre, something I’d been wondering about recently. It’s likely that having started reading this thinking that I didn’t like the mystery genre may have led me to being more critical of this story than I normally would have been towards a novel. Having said that, there were a great many things about this novel that I did enjoy.

I can honestly say Death at Solstice by Lucha Copri has taught me something. I like mystery novels. I’ve avoided reading them if I could for most of my life because I thought I didn’t like them. Now, this is not the first mystery I’ve read, but it did confirm that I enjoy the genre, something I’d been wondering about recently. It’s likely that having started reading this thinking that I didn’t like the mystery genre may have led me to being more critical of this story than I normally would have been towards a novel. Having said that, there were a great many things about this novel that I did enjoy.

The novel centers on the character of Gloria Damasco, a detective with a ‘dark gift’ that shows her visions of the future. Most of her visions are what keep her in the detective business, that and her need to save those in her visions from death or destruction. Her most persistent vision shows a phantom horse and rider, a woman crying for help, and Gloria herself trapped underwater and desperate for air. Trying not to think about the vision too much, Gloria drives up to California’s wine country to help a friend try to find out who stole an antique pair of diamond and emerald earrings that once belonged to the Empress Carlota of Mexico. The investigation into the theft uncovers a bigger mystery of murder, the kidnapping of a young girl that some believe can perform miracles, and the ghost of the legendary Joaquin Murrieta. Gloria uses her skills as a detective to piece together what seem to be random clues that lead her to a Witches’ Sabbath where she hopes to rescue the la santisima niña before she, or someone else, is killed.

When I first began reading this book, I had trouble connecting to the main character of Gloria. Reading about her made her seem as if she was a character I should already know and care about and that worried me. However, after doing a little investigating I discovered that this novel was only the latest edition in a series of books. So, as it turns out this was a character that I would have known and cared about had I read the other books, and once I got further into the story I did feel like I had gotten to know Gloria and cared about her. This was probably my biggest issue with the book, but it was something that I was able to overcome.

Something I really enjoyed about this book was how Gloria dealt with whatever situation she found herself in. She reacted to nearly every situation she came across with a fairly calm and practicle nature, even when she found herself standing among a group of people waiting for aliens to come and contact them. After the people left Gloria said:

So there I was on a rock between heaven and hell, with a White Supremacist alien spacecraft hovering beyond the Sierra Nevada range. I was watching out for an alleged ritualistic murderer who had also kidnapped a young woman said to be a saint able to perform miracles. The absurdity of it all was worth a laugh.

Passages like this were what made me think this book was worth reading.

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