IN THE AIR TONIGHT - Lori Handeland
Sisters of the Craft Series , Book 1
St. Martin's Paperbacks
New Bergin, Wisconsin, the Present
Four hundred years ago, Roland McHugh, at the behest of King James, went on a secret mission to purge witches from Scotland. McHugh burned Henry and Prudence Taggart at the stake. Indeed, the two were witches, and to save their triplet infant daughters, they made a spell from the fire and their blood that threw their three daughters into a future time when witches would not be hunted.
Raye Larson knows that as a baby she was dumped, naked, on the side of an interstate on a July day. No one could trace where she came from. Her adopted mother loved her despite her strange habit of talking to empty spaces, but her father, dismayed by this persistent strange behavior, demanded she stop. He left her feeling inadequate. What nobody knows is that she sees and talks to ghosts, all the time, everywhere. As a black-haired girl in a community with a blond-haired Nordic population, she has never fit in, but she has one good, life-long friend, Jenn. Raye is the kindergarten teacher at the local elementary school and Jenn the attendance secretary who doesn't like dealing with young children. Walking to school one morning, they pass a crowd gathering as the police handle a murder, the first in New Bergin in generations. Raye sees the ghost first. Jenn points out the body with an arm missing, partially burned, and with a brand of a snarling wolf on her neck. The ghost tells Raye, "He will burn us all."
New Orleans Detective Bobby Doucet investigates murders. He and his partner have been looking into strange cases that might involve a serial killer. All the victims share only one similarity: a snarling wolf branded on their bodies. When a photo arrives from Wisconsin with a victim marked with such a brand, Bobby goes to the small town of New Bergin. As he is driving down the street upon his arrival, a woman rushes from a building saying someone was in her apartment brandishing a cleaver. What he discovers is a beautiful woman—raven-haired Raye—who seems to be in danger. Bobby wants to protect Raye, but the deaths of his daughter and her mother still haunt him because he believes he was responsible.
IN THE AIR TONIGHT is an extremely entertaining story, well written for fast, mesmerizing reading. It melds the reality of genetically inherited gifts with witches' magic. A vicious witch-hating group has revived McHugh's desire to burn all witches, and they desire to resurrect McHugh himself, even if they must use dark magic to do it. Go figure. The interactions between Raye and Bobby are steamy and obstacle filled, especially after she learns her witch background and that she has sisters. Bobby is not a believer. Raye's view of the relationship between herself and her adopted father is hard to fathom, as he often seems so very protective of her. She has a ghost, Henry, and a black wolf protecting her, too. Jenn's self-confidence adds a welcomed dose of humor. The ghosts pique interest as the vile crimes add suspense. Readers who love witch stories will enjoy this story, especially since author Lori Handeland has interspersed quips referring to other TV and movie shows that dealt with seeing ghosts. A great start to a new series, earning it a Perfect 10.