BOOK 2: Bruja Brouhaha
The plot of this book centers around Santería, a religion that mixes Roman Catholicism with West African beliefs. As the story opens, Liz and Nick are attending a 60th anniversary celebration at the home of their friends, Paco and Lucia Rojas, practitioners of Santería who own the Botanica Rojas across from MacArthur Park in the largely Latino Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. During the course of the evening, Paco goes downstairs to unlock the door for a neighbor and is murdered in a drive-by shooting.
The plot follows Liz and Nick as they unravel the clues and try to find the killer. As they investigate, they discover that several developers have been trying to force Paco to sell his property to them and that their neighbor has close connections to local gangs. When Lucia puts a hex on everyone attending her husband's wake, people call her a bruja (witch). Soon, bad things begin to happen to the attendees, and everyone in the neighborhood turns against Lucia—some with accusations, but others with violence.
Once again, Liz and Nick bicker a lot about the reality of magic—especially Lucia's hex, although Liz does wear the protective bracelet that Lucia makes for her. Another source of contention between the two is the fact that Liz refuses to move in with Nick when her landlord doesn't renew the lease on her townhouse.
I was disappointed in this book, which is much less successful than book 1. The plot is unoriginal and predictable, with its familiar story of the evil land developer who will stop at nothing to gain possession of the property he desires. The Santería elements read like excerpts from a Wikipedia article, and all of the supporting characters are one-dimensional. The author pads the pages with detailed lists of what the lead characters eat and the clothes that the heroine wears—always a sign of a thinly developed plot. I had high hopes for this series after reading book 1, but with the drop in quality in this book, I have revised my opinion downward. Click HERE to read an excerpt.