As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben's campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff's office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case. In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben's smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.
Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman's body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley's unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory's front door, effectively banning her from the case.
Evangeline and the sheriff's office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben's job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.
Book 5 in the Mae December Mystery series, which began with One Dog Too Many.
About the Author
Lia Farrell is the pen name of the mother and daughter writing team of Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons, who live in Michigan and Tennessee, respectively. Both are life-long readers who are also dog lovers. Lyn owns a Welsh corgi and Lisa has a Siberian husky. Lisa works as a Muralist and Interior Designer and Lyn is a Professor Emerita of Medical Education who has retired to write full-time. Five Dog Voodoo is the fifth book in the Mae December Mystery Series, which began with One Dog Too Many. For more information, go to liafarrell.net.
Read an Excerpt
“Come on, Miss Erzulie, let’s go out.” Mira handed her a red leather leash and Evangeline clipped it to the dog’s collar. They walked across the bare wood floors, through the sparsely furnished living room. Looking through the windows at the back of the house, Evangeline saw a screened-in porch, a wild backyard, and the shadowed woods. The sun was low, and even though it was only early afternoon, the shadows had turned the pine trees a deep forest green, nearly black.
She opened the door to the porch, which ran across the whole back of the house. The dog was pulling now, hard. “Erzulie, stop that,” she said just as she tripped over a flower pot and fell down on the floor. In that instant, the dog pushed through the door, tearing the corner of the screen. Like a ghost, she vanished.
“Are you all right?” Mira asked as she helped Evangeline to her feet.
“I am,” Evangeline said, brushing off her pants. “I’m sorry, the dog got away.” Wayne and Rob clattered down the stairs.
“What happened?” Rob asked.
“Nothing. I just tripped, but the dog got outside. Ms. Canja is afraid she’ll run away in search of Zoé.” They could hear the dog barking and then a long horrible howl, a wail of near human pain. Evangeline could hardly breathe.
“We’ll go after her,” Wayne said brusquely. The two men moved toward the sound of the crying dog.
“I’m coming with you,” Evangeline said. Following the men, she glanced back once at Mira Canja, who stood frozen in place. The wind rose and a sudden patter of rain hit the tin roof of the yellow house. The dog continued to moan and cry. They crossed the coarse grass and had reached the edge of the forest when Rob flicked on his flashlight. The beam hit Erzulie’s yellow eyes. The dog’s front legs were bent down in a crouching position but her head was held high as she gave vent to her anguish.
“Stay back,” Wayne said, holding out an arm to stop Evangeline. “You probably don’t want to see this.”
Evangeline came to a halt, staring at the grieving dog. Wayne pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket and knelt down. Unable to keep still another moment, Evangeline moved forward to grab for the red leather leash that was still attached to Erzulie’s collar.
“Erzulie, come away from there,” Evangeline said and tugged on the leash. She didn’t want the dog interfering with the work the detectives were doing. She was breathing raggedly, terribly afraid of what they would see. The men were both bending down now, moving dried leaves and some dirt aside.
“It’s the girl,” Wayne said. Rob walked unsteadily away toward the left side of the property. Evangeline could hear him retching into the weeds.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had all kinds of fun with this story. Voodoo. Just the word sounds mysterious and creepy. Imagine a place called Voodoo Village. Sounds almost like a song. And the title, Five Dog Voodoo. Now that sounds too good to pass up. It’s a lovely mess of reelection campaigns, murder, and voodoo in Tennessee. Not having read the other books in this series, I was happy to have no problem jumping in here. I really like Mae December. That girl does it all. She helps with her fiances reelection campaign, is caregiver to a pack of dogs, is a successful painter, and is the soon to be stepmom to Ben’s five-year-old son. She also runs her own boarding kennel, which also includes some training and the breeding of designer dogs. Ever heard of a porgie, a cross between a corgi and a pug? How about a cortese, a cross between a corgi and a maltese? And then there’s the strawberry blond porgies. Murder takes precedent over Ben’s reelection campaign when a dog leads authorities to her master’s body, buried in a shallow grave in Voodoo village. It may not just be his job he loses if Ben doesn’t solve this case fast. Are you curious about where this dog and her four new pups will end up? I have several requirements I expect from a cozy mystery. It needs a small town setting. Check. A quirky title and fun cover art. Check. Unusual character names and a bit of romance. Check. A mystery not too easily solved. Check. And some kind of theme. Check. And it’s always a pleasant bonus to have some furry companions too. I had a really fun read and plan to go back and start at the beginning. I need to see what I’ve missed. But, if you start the series here, you’ll have no problem enjoying this all by itself.
Five Dog Voodoo is an excellent story, one of my favorites in the cozy mystery genre. While the title initially gave me pause, the description caught my interest – and I’ve discovered what looks to be a great series. It’s extremely well written, with no unnecessary descriptions or repetition of thoughts as filler, and moves at a quick pace. Setting is atmospheric, plot is multilayered, and an appealing ensemble cast adds much depth. This book can stand alone, but I’m eager to read the four previous stories and hope for more to come. The setting moves between the small Tennessee town of Rosedale and the Voodoo Village located close by, which literally becomes a major character. My knowledge of voodoo is minimal, and the authors did a masterful job at bringing this group of people and their beliefs to life. Sheriff Ben Bradley’s murder investigation is complicated by the people’s secretiveness and belief that they are outside the law. I found the secondary plot involving Chief Detective Wayne Nichols emotional and poignant. And Erzuline, a Weimaraner that Mae takes in while she is nursing her pups, simply stole my heart. The mystery itself is well plotted – and I loved how, rather than being overly suspenseful, it involved the logical, step-by-step gathering of facts. It was easy to follow and held my attention throughout. I was especially drawn to Evangeline, whose Voodoo background was invaluable in helping to solve the case. Her words to Wayne also made these people feel so real: “Although the Voodoo Village is a curiosity to most of us, to the people who live there it’s a paradise, a sacred space of safety and community.” The scenes involving the fête mori, a festival honoring the dead, were vivid and haunting. It was at this festival that Evangeline strongly felt the pull of the Voodoo culture, and I loved the way that struggle played out at the end. Five Dog Voodoo is all that a cozy mystery should be and I enjoyed it greatly. It is basically a clean read, with only a few instances of mild profanity and some of the characters living together being the only negatives for me. Highly recommended. (5-star rating within the cozy mystery genre) I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite Five Dog Voodoo (A Mae December Mystery) by Lia Farrell is an absorbing murder mystery. Mae December is very busy. She is an artist in high demand at the local art gallery, runs a boarding kennel, breeds dogs occasionally, and does dog training. Right now, her fiancé is running for Sheriff and she is helping him run his campaign. There are only a few more days to the election and the pressure is high. Mae's mother, Suzanne, wrote a story about Voodoo Village for the Halloween edition of her column, unwittingly causing unwanted notoriety for the people who live there. Zoe Canja was a resident of Voodoo Village and had lived there all her life. When Zoe was a small child, her mother vanished and never returned. Zoe never gave up her search for her mother. One night, in a twist of fate, she disappears. Her grandmother knows something has happened to her and is distraught. Evangeline was raised in a Voodoo home and knows that the Sheriff's Department needs her help as a liaison between the two cultures. When Zoe's body is discovered, there is a handful of people who are able to work with the residents of the village. Even with the election at hand and all her other responsibilities, Mae insists on being part of the investigation. Together, Evangeline and Mae help the Sheriff's Department try to locate Zoe's murderer. Five Dog Voodoo (A Mae December Mystery) by Lia Farrell is an entertaining murder mystery with an occult twist. The novel has hints of Vodun set in a small Tennessee town. I was impressed with the descriptions of the rituals; they gave the story a sense of realism. I really liked the fact that, when I finished the story, I had a little more knowledge and understanding of the Vodun religion than when I started reading the book. The information was fascinating and enlightening. Although this is book number five in the Mae December Series, it does well as a stand-alone. I enjoyed reading this book and was happy to learn a little more about the voodoo religion. I recommend this book to those who love a cozy mystery.