Book Review: BRUJA BROUHAHA by Rochelle Staab

BrujaBrouhaha
Series: A Mind For Murder Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Released: August 7, 2012
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Practical psychologist Liz Cooper and occult professor Nick Garfield are enjoying the sixteenth wedding anniversary celebration for their charming hosts Paco and Lucia Rojas, devout Santeria practitioners who own the historic Botanica Rojas near MacArthur Park. But the small group of friends is left horrified and confused when the evening ends in tragedy.

Devastated by loss, Lucia, a Santeria priestess, blames the locals for the escalating crime in her beloved community. She casts a vengeful hex on the neighborhood, leading strangers and friends alike to dub her bruja–Spanish for witch–and turn on the elderly woman. Lucia may be in harm’s way, and it’s up to Liz and Nick to unravel a mysterious disappearance and solve a murder before more lives are lost…

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BRUJA BROUHAHA is a clever title that fits this book perfectly. The bruja (witch) in question is Lucia Rojas who puts a hex on her neighborhood to avenge her husband’s murder in front of their home. Soon after, the residents begin blaming her hex for every misfortune that befalls them. Lucia refuses to lift the curse, believing it is the only thing that will bring Paco’s killer to justice.

Fearing that their elderly friend will become the target of an angry mob, Liz Cooper and Nick Garfield step in to help. Liz is a psychologist who works weekends at the clinic across from Lucia’s building, and Nick is a professor of religious studies specializing in the occult.

When one of the doctors at the clinic goes missing after Paco’s wake, Liz and Nick start digging for clues to see if the disappearance could be connected to the murder. If the two incidents are related, then there may be more to Paco’s death than random gang violence.

BRUJA BROUHAHA is a fantastic follow up to WHO DO, VOODOO. This time around, the religion of Santeria is explored. I enjoyed how the author blended Santeria beliefs, practices and history into the story. This is not a paranormal mystery, though supernatural elements are explored. Practical Liz doesn’t want to believe in things like hexes, but she’s quick to wear an anti-hex protection bracelet made by Lucia. ;-)

The characters in this book are all engaging and well-drawn. I definitely get the sense that I know them and care what happen to them. Nick and Liz make a great couple, and their relationship progresses in this book, though they’ve got important issues to work through.

BRUJA BROUHAHA is a smart, well-written mystery and an entertaining continuation of the series. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Liz and Nick!

Rating: 4½ Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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