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Caturday Reads: By Familiar Means is a cozy paranormal treat

By Familiar Means

by Delia James

Berkley Publishing Group

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 20 Sep 2016


By Familiar Means is a solid, well written paranormal cozy with likable characters. While it isn't groundbreaking, it is an entertaining read perfect for a relaxing afternoon. What more could a reader want?

In By Familiar Means, coffee shop owners Jake and Mirabelle ask Annabelle to uncover whether there is a ghost haunting the location of their planned expansion. Despite not believing in ghosts (magic is already new to Annabelle) she gives it a try - what she discovers is a hidden tunnel and a not so well hidden body. The police believe Jake and Mirabelle are responsible, and aren't looking any further. Naturally Annabelle, her visiting grandmother (the source of her magic) and her friends start their own investigation. With a bit of luck, magic, and the help of a certain cat, they are bound to find the truth.

Annabelle's uncertainty about staying in Portsmouth and spending time with Young Sean is a bit overdone. Her Grandma BB's enthusiasm and straightforward manner helps balance things out. She is a nice addition to the cast. Of course Alistair, Annabelle's pudgy feline familiar manages to capture his share of applause and more than a few chuckles. Between Annabelle learning it is better not to give catnip to a cat who can appear and disappear at will to Annabelle agreeing to buy more tuna if he helps her find clues his antics are certain to bring a smile.

I would have liked to see a bit more ghostly action - the prohibition era tunnels and hidden passages offered a lot of story potential. Perhaps they will come into play in a future mystery. On the whole By Familiar Means gives cozy lovers what they want - a well plotted mystery, a small amount of danger, a likable set of characters including a fabulous feline, and a happy ending where the villain gets his just desserts.


I received a copy of By Familiar Means from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.



In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house.

After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years.

But being a witch doesn't magically put money in the bank. When she's hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers' tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer...

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