Spirits and Smoke

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Pub Date 04 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2021
Canongate Books, Severn House

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Deadly drinks, vicious gangsters, missing money . . . Reluctant sleuth Maddie Pastore is back with a bang, in the second Mystic’s Accomplice historical mystery set in 1920s Chicago.

December, 1924. Young widow Maddie Pastore feels fortunate to be employed by the well-meaning but fraudulent medium Carlotta Romany. Investigating Carlotta’s clients isn’t work she’s proud of, but she’s proud of how well she does it.

Maddie’s talents, however, draw them unwelcome attention: sharp-eyed Officer O’Rourke from the Chicago Police. He doesn’t believe in spiritualism – but in a city packed with mobsters, con artists and criminals, he’ll take any help he can get.

It’s not long before Maddie has a case to bring him. Why did teetotal banker Herman Quillen die of alcohol poisoning? And who is the gold-toothed man claiming to be his brother, and demanding the spirits reveal where Herman hid his money?

All Maddie wants is to uncover the truth – but to her horror, she’s soon mixed up in a tangled web of secrets and deception that leads to the heart of Chicago’s violent gangs . . . and she’ll need all her wits about her if she, and her loved ones, are going to make it out again alive.

Spirits and Smoke, the sequel to The Mystic’s Accomplice, to is an ideal pick for readers who enjoy Jazz Age mysteries with feisty female sleuths, sparkling historical detail and Prohibition high-jinks.

Deadly drinks, vicious gangsters, missing money . . . Reluctant sleuth Maddie Pastore is back with a bang, in the second Mystic’s Accomplice historical mystery set in 1920s Chicago.

December, 1924....

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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780727850430
PRICE $28.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 13 members

Featured Reviews

The delicious second installment to Mary Miley's riveting Mystic Accomplice Mystery Series set in the Windy City during the Roaring Twenties where once again we follow the sleuthing adventures of Maddie Pastore as she tries to untangle a rather complex murder mystery steeped in greed, corruption and awashed with plenty of toxic alcohol, all of this against a backdrop of fraudulent spiritualism, trigger happy mobsters, dizzy dames and omnipresent speakeasies that take the reader into a dazzling tour of Chicago at the height of the Prohibition Era. Cleverly plotted with enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat and a cast of charming and often dangerous characters, this latest accomplishment should definitely captivate anyone interested by the razzle dazzle prevalent in America before the Great Depression. A gritty tale written with lots of sparkling dialogues that deserves to be enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever and maybe a good cocktail at the end😉👍 Many thanks to Netgalley and Canongate/Severn House for this terrific ARC

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"Too much of anything is bad. But too much good whiskey is barely enough." (Mark Twain) Spirits and Smoke swirls around the streets of Chicago in a blustery winter of 1924. Mary Miley has nudged into being crime bosses, Prohibition, illegal speakeasies, and a vast array of hustlers and con-men of every persuasion. And into this mix are those who are just trying to survive on what little they have. Maddie Pastore is a survivor. Her husband Tommy had been a driver for the infamous Al Capone when a stray bullet found its mark and took him out. Along with her five month old son, Tommy Jr., she's taken up residence in the household of Madame Carlotta Romany, a mystic and spiritual medium. Desperate times bring desperate measures. For a roof over her head, Maddie does research on Carlotta's customers and acts as a sometimes customer herself. She's not quite sure of Carlotta's supposed talents, but a growling stomach and the freezing winds of Chicago say otherwise. But the sister of one of those "dearly departed" is convinced that her brother was murdered. He was found dead in an alley after ingesting "smoke" alcohol. Devious individuals lined their booze with wood alcohol in a denaturing fashion during Prohibition. The more that Maddie uncovers about Herman Quillen, the more she is convinced that Quillen may have been involved in some shady business with the Chicago Outfit. It's like the famous line: "A man walks into a bar......" Only this guy didn't make it farther than the alley. Mary Miley's lead female character, Maddie Pastore, reflects the dynamics of the times. She keeps re-inventing herself for the sake of her son and for simple survival. Spirits and Smoke is the second book in this series, but it can be readily enjoyed as a standalone. We readers get a panoramic view of Chicago dotted with the underbelly of crime figures like Al Capone, Hymie Weiss, and politicians who were as crooked as the crooks. Spirits and Smoke is an escape read which we all need about now. Real life keeps getting more intense by the day. Somehow Chicago in 1924 with the shifty gangsters and a smart woman shifting through clues is the way to go. Can't wait to see which high rises and low rises we'll find Maddie in next. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Severn House and to Mary Miley for the opportunity.

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A great story of the Roaring Twenties, featuring Maddie as the main character, and Carlotta and Freddy as close seconds, and finally O'Rourke, as the policeman. Gangsters such as Al Caponr, feature as well as this is a story about a murder, and is basically a whodunit. Well I am not going to tell the reader that, nor the rest of the plot, in case I spoil it. A highly readable tale, and highly recommended.

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“Spirits and Smoke “ uses 1920’s Chicago as its backdrop, and paints vividly, the corruption, the gangsters, speakeasies and gin joints, and literally “all that jazz” Amateur sleuth, Maddie Pastore is widowed with a young baby, Tommy, so she counts herself lucky to have employment. She works as a mystic’s assistant to the fraudulent spiritual medium Carlotta Romany, investigating clients before their appointment with Carlotta. The medium claims to connect people to the spirit of their loved ones, and she’s under the illusion that she actually does that! Or maybe she’s in denial and just wants to believe all her own hype. When Maddie meets Chicago Police Officer O’Rourke, he tells Maddie that he wants Carlotta’s help with a case, he doesn’t believe in spiritualism himself, but he’s willing to try whatever it takes, but before long, Maddie has a case of her own to bring to his attention. A man turned up at one of the seances claiming to be the brother of Herman Quillen who died of alcohol poisoning, wanting to find out where Herman’s money was hidden. Maddie had done her investigations and discovered that Herman didn’t have a brother, and she also found it strange that he’d died of alcohol poisoning, when everyone who knew him said he was teetotal. Understandably she’s suspicious, and asks O’Rourke for help. However, Maddie gets in too deep and ends up getting on the wrong side of one of Chicago’s most vicious gangs! Great setting, wonderfully atmospheric, blending as it does, a combination of history, real historical figures, and historical accuracy, together with a riveting whodunnit. Maddie makes for a a terrific protagonist, gutsy and intelligent, someone who wants to provide for her baby, and whatever the difficulties, has the determination to do so. Very enjoyable!

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A fast paced and entertaining historical mystery, the second installment in this excellent series. It's riveting, entertaining and gripping. The author did an excellent job in mixing historical characters like Al Capone with fiction and the historical background is vivid and well researched. Maddie is a character I love: a woman who's fighting to give the best to her child and I love her and the cast of fleshed out characters. The mystery is solid and full of twists, it kept me guessing and I loved the solution. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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