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Lipstick Voodoo
a Kincaid Strange novel
by Kristi Charish
Vintage Canada, Penguin Random House, $19.95, 362 pp
Published: January 2019

Well, this was a tasty treat.  It’s the second in a trilogy and I didn’t read the first one.  I don’t think that’s a problem as this author had done the best job I’ve ever seen of providing enough backstory to get me caught up – and quickly.  I am truly impressed with her work.

Kincaid Strange (I do think the name’s a bit heavy) is a voodoo practitioner.  That means that she’s the one they call when a deceased person needs to be called back - perhaps there’s a discrepancy in their will, maybe some missing money or assets, or some unfinished business.  She raises them, asks the questions, and gets paid.  It’s a crummy job that doesn’t pay well or even at all. 

In the first book, we are introduced to her ghostly roommate, Nathan; the Zombie Queen of Seattle, Lee Ling; and a terrifying sorcerer’s ghost, Gideon.  At the end of that book, Nathan had an unfortunate accident and became a zombie, occupying the body of a young man that was destined to be Gideon’s new domicile.  Gideon is not happy but he believes his new body was destroyed; he doesn’t know that Kincaid is hiding him while she frantically searches for a way to release Nate from the steadily decaying zombie body.  As this story begins, Kincaid is terrified that the uber-powerful Gideon is going to find out that his body wasn’t destroyed; she’s also terrified of what price Gideon will exact for her failure to produce his shiny new body.  Her ex-boyfriend, a Seattle cop named Aaron, has coerced her into taking on a cold case with the tenuous promise of reinstating her in the police dept - a most-desired steady paycheck. When the cold case turns out to be about a twenty-year-old murder of a grunge rocker that Nate knew, she might have expected a lot more cooperation from her erstwhile roommate.  But Nate is suspiciously vague and close-mouthed about his old band and some lost, unfinished songs of his that someone wants, very badly. The case gets very serious and dangerous when an unknown supernatural entity starts killing people and neither Kincaid nor her new mentor, Gideon, can explain how or why. It’s a wonderful weaving of plot lines to bring them all together in a smooth finish.

It’s all good in this story:  character development, world-building and plot.  I confess I didn’t have high expectations based on the title or the book cover but this is a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover.  This was just about a perfect story.  It was a fast pace, a captivating plotline and very interesting characters.  I have to make sure not to miss the final book; this book left enough unresolved to allow for some chronic anticipation. ~~ Catherine Book        

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