May Day Murder

Title: May Day Murder (A Wiccan Wheel Mystery Book 5)

Publisher: Kensington

Author: Jennifer David Hesse

Pages: 336pp

Price: $7.99US

Keli Milanni is an attorney in Edindale, Illinois — and a very in-the-broom-closet Wiccan. While she has opened up about her faith to her best friend and her boyfriend, she keeps it a secret from her clients and the community-at-large. Or, at least she tries to keep it a secret. When she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation, however, she finds herself being pulled deeper into the local Pagan community; and, even worse, finds herself the subject of police suspicion and media speculation. When rumors begin to swirl and clients begin to cancel, Keli realizes that the only way to save her career is to solve the murder herself. But doing so requires Keli to draw on her faith in new and unexpected ways ….

There are very few mainstream mystery series which take “alternative spiritualities” seriously. Hesse’s Wiccan Wheel Mysteries is one of those few, which is why it is also one of my favorites. I have followed it from the beginning, and it only gets better with each book.

Keli is a terrific protagonist: deeply ethical, hard-working, and loyal. She is passionate about her work, and loves to help people solve their problems. She is also intelligent and curious and, best of all, faithful. Keli is a devout Wiccan who walks her talk; she is thankful and prayerful, turning to the Goddess both to express gratitude and to request aid. (I particularly like the scene in which Keli casts a prosperity spell by planting a garden.)

Over the course of the series, Keli has been gradually pushed further and further out of her closet and out of her comfort zone. Watching her evolve has been fascinating and satisfying. In the first book, Midsummer Night’s Mischief, Keli is completely private about her beliefs; she is paranoid that someone will see her shopping at Moonstone Treasures (the local metaphysical store) and only reluctantly discusses spiritual issues with the proprietor, Mila. By the fifth book, May Day Murder, Keli has opened up to her best friend and boyfriend, Mila is a trusted confidante, she is willing to discuss her beliefs with other Pagans, and she is attending the public Beltane ritual. I couldn’t help but cheer Keli on as she became more self-confidant and self-aware in her spirituality.

Then, of course, there is the mystery at the heart of May Day Murder. Not only does Keli stumble across a murder scene and find herself caught up in the official investigation, but she is also the subject of harassment, the focus of a smear campaign, and the victim of a sinister stalker.

Good thing she has magic and her faith to keep her strong.

May Day Murder is a great addition to the Wiccan Wheel Mystery series. Highly recommended, but the books are best read in order.