Occult and Battery
Bay Island Psychic Mystery #2
By Lena Gregory
Author Website: Lenagregory.com
Cass Donovan uses her skills as a former psychiatrist to get away with pretending to be psychic, but she’s not about to let anyone get away with murder…
The outlook is not so good for Cass’s psychic shop, Mystical Musings. With winter winds discouraging tourists from riding the ferry from Long Island to Bay Island, Cass hopes to draw in more customers by hosting a murder mystery weekend, complete with a séance, in a supposedly haunted mansion.
But Cass begins to lose her spirit when her ex-husband shows up, along with his fiancée—Cass’s ex-best friend. Then after one of the guests is found dead, a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone inside with a murderer. Now Cass must divine who did the deed before her reputation and her livelihood fade away. (Goodreads)
Occult and Battery, the second book in the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series, is a better read than the first book, Death at First Sight. With lots of red herrings and a few surprises thrown in, it is engaging and entertaining.
I will be honest, the first book in this series did not impress me, and I was somewhat hesitant to read Occult and Battery, but I am glad that I gave the series another shot. Winter is hard on proprietor Cass Donovan’s Mystic Musings shop located on an island off the coast of New York, and Cass is desperate to generate some revenue to keep her afloat until tourist season. She organizes a whole weekend at a local mansion, which is purported to be haunted, with individual psychic readings and a séance on the agenda. Things go awry when one of the mansion owners is found hanging in the cupola. Did Conrad commit suicide? Was it murder? To make matters worse, a blizzard has blown in, essentially trapping all of the guests at the mansion, and Cass’s cheating ex-husband Donald and his fiancé Sylvia, Cass’s ex BFF, are among the guests. The death count rises, and Cass is in for a bombshell of a revelation.
Cass is a likable character, haunted by the death of one of her psychiatric patients and the betrayal of her husband and best friend. Her baggage makes her more realistic and endearing. As readers, we never really know if Cass has some psychic abilities or if her training as a psychiatrist just makes her better able to read and evaluate people. This ambiguity bothered me in the first book, but here I decided to just go with it. Cass’s best friends Bee and Stephanie embody loyalty, and the three of them make a good investigative team. Their banter is a highlight of the book. Cass’s puppy Beast provides a lot of levity to the story, but I sure hope Cass trains him (and learns how to be a dog owner) in the next book. Stephanie’s husband Tank, the threesome’s police connection, grounds the investigation and makes it all more believable. We do not see much of Cass’s love interest Luke in this outing, and I cannot help but wonder how much longer he will be in Cass’s life.
The murder mystery is solid with plenty of plot twists and red herrings. Gregory does a good job of giving us a variety of suspects, and the blizzard gives the story a “closed room” feel that should please any fan of the golden age of mystery. I suspected whodunit relatively early on, and was partially correct, but I was pleasantly surprised by the plot developments. Really, I was blown away by the final revelations.
I liked Occult and Battery and recommend it to fans of both paranormal and traditional cozies.