Review: ‘The Hummingbird Wizard’ (Book 1 of the Mystic Café trilogy) by Meredith Blevins

The Hummingbird Wizard (The Mystic Cafe Trilogy Book 1) by [Blevins, Meredith]This is an interesting mashup of murder mystery with Romany gypsies, a bit of magic, a bit of romance, and a ditzy, menopausal heroine of the type that if her quips are good enough the book is a romp, and if it’s not it’s hard work.

Be assured – this heroine (Annie Szabo) has plenty of good put-downs and one-liners. As do the rest of her family, friends, enemies, hangers-on, and street bums. There is plenty of wit here. Everyone has massive character flaws. Some of them are difficult to love on that account. Annie loves them all, but doesn’t like many of them. She tries to avoid becoming entangled with them again (some of them for the umpteenth time), especially her Romany mother in law, Madame Mina. Fortunately for the sake of the book, Annie is crap at remaining disentangled. But then, we’ve all had people we can’t seem to shake, haven’t we? That’s families, right? The book proceeds on that assumption.

Does Madame Mina sound like a stereotype? Yup. But every time she enters a scene it begins to emulate a firecracker – fizzing and popping off in unexpected directions. This is a good trick, as the story gallops along even when she’s not on stage.

It is some time before it is established whether a murder has taken place or not (although it was obvious to me from the get-go, so as you are at least as intelligent a reader as I am, I am not counting this as a spoiler). Annie is an investigative journalist and is determined to investigate the crap out of the murder of her friend. Various of the family members are suspected of said murder at various times by Annie and/or the police. The extended family rallies round to help and does, of course, more harm than good. The actual murderer is unexpected but well-trailed, and thus makes a satisfying perpetrator.

The book is an easy-read romp, of nearly 400 pages, with the inevitable world-weary cop and the Hummingbird Wizard himself as love interests.

The book gets mixed reviews, and I see why. Sometimes the writing is oddly unfocussed and ‘that’ll do’. But then sometimes it is very funny. And at other times has real insights to impart. Read it for the gems and skip over the unfocussed bits.

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed.

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