Published: December 29, 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Print from Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina firstname.lastname@example.org
After overhearing a plot to defraud the United States while working at her job at the Library of Congress, Josie Way becomes a whistle blower. While doing so is patriotic, those in the midst of committing a crime don’t think so. After the disappearance of her co-worker who also heard the conspirators’ exchange, Josie goes on the run. Her love of books and hopes to find a place to hide send Josie from Washington, D.C. to the small town of Wilfred, Oregon as their new librarian. The library itself is in an old Victorian mansion with the various rooms assigned appropriate genres…except maybe the cookbooks in the powder room. And Wilfred being a small town where people tend to look out for each other, the library is also a town meeting place where the knitting club, English as a second language class and other community activities take place. Even with some quirky neighbors and co-workers, Josie is sure she’s found a safe haven.
That is, until, she stumbles on a dead body and the owner of that body turns out to be a “fixer”, i.e., a contract killer. Not only that, shortly after arriving in Wilfred she begins to notices some personal changes—like hearing books talk to her. Not that they are waving their pages and voices are coming out—but she just KNOWS which book to recommend, even books she’s never heard of before. And then there is Rodney—the little black cat who apparently lives at the library, but has a very similar birthmark to one of hers. And then there is the fact that the library building has been sold and is due to be demolished in less than a month. While this troubles Josie, she figures it doesn’t much matter since the whistle blower case will be going to trial and she only took the job to hide out for awhile. Everything should be just fine, right? But then one of the library trustees is arrested for the murder of the contract killer and Josie is sure he didn’t do it. The question is, who did? And is someone still out to silence her?
A cat, a black one at that, a library, a psychic witch and a mix of quirky and regular folk characters, what’s not to like? I admit I was drawn to Angela M. Sanders BAIT AND WITCH because the black cat on the cover looks like my own kitty, Ollie Cat. And then, of course, I can’t resist a book, any book, about a library or book store.
I liked Josie for several reasons—she’s smart, even though she fled Washington, she thought pretty clearly about her situation and what she needed to do to survive, she stepped up as a whistle blower when she heard something illegal happening and she isn’t afraid to step up and ask the questions that need to be asked. She also decided that whatever happened to her in terms of losing her job, she was going to make sure Rodney was taken care of—you can’t fault an animal lover.
The other characters were also well done. They were three dimensional and believable. Each one, except Rodney of course, had some sort of secret that could have made them the killer. And while some of the secrets we’ve been before, Sanders gives them a fresh look when seen through Josie’s eyes. I even felt a little bad for the annoying Ilona when her secret came out.
Some of the witchy aspects weren’t exactly credible, but this is fiction and a cozy where you expect to find things stretched a bit. Sanders does a great job of taking those aspects and making them an integral part of the story. I felt as curious as Josie about what was going on with those talking books.
The town of Wilfred sounds like an awesome place to live. Yes, it’s a small town that’s struggling, but people look out for each other and find a way to survive. Sanders gives each character an optimistic if not happy ending, except for the killer which suits me just fine. If you followed closely you could see just who the killer was so I wasn’t completely surprised but did enjoy the final reveal.
Add in a smart heroine with an array of both quirky and “normal” folk characters you have my perfect read and BAIT AND WITCH certainly was. Now I have to wait patiently for book 2.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.