Second in the Corine Solomon urban fantasy series revolving around Corine, a woman Gifted with the ability to read the history of any object.
There are two objectives in this story. Corine must decide how she feels about Chance—the ex-boyfriend who wants her back in his life—and bring those responsible for her mother’s death to justice. And, oh man, does Aguirre take us for a ride!
The primary storyline is discovering the secret of what is terrorizing the forest and why so many are disappearing in it. Interspersed with it is Corine’s thinking about the relationship she had with Chance. The good. The bad. What she hopes for the future. Right along with her thoughts about being with Chance. With Jesse. The life she has built for herself in Mexico City. Battling the manners she learned half a lifetime ago with her need for happiness. Contending with Chance and Jesse’s male expectations.
We do learn what happened that night when Corine’s mother died and the house burned down. Not quite what Corine had thought. But close enough. With a bit of misdirection thrown in by Aguirre. And a very odd demon with whom Aguirre sets Corine up for a future encounter.
The closer Corine and Chance get to Kilmer, the eerier the countryside becomes and the more agitated Corine gets. Twelve people are responsible for murdering her mother for being a witch, burning down her home, and abandoning Corine to a foster system that merely tolerated her.
They make a start with the library with its archive of old newspapers and then interviewing Corine’s foster parents. A daunting task made worse when someone tries to run Corine down in the street. And they need to find a new place to sleep. After finding that line of herbs surrounding their room along with the accompanying eeriness, there is no way either of them will stay at the Kilmer Inn. It’s Phil Regis who rents them old Mrs. Everett’s farmhouse. It should be more private. Easier to protect. Even it it does welcome Corine home with a bloody-seeming message.
Shortly after that, it’s divide and conquer when the sheriff throws Chance in jail and Corine retreats to the farmhouse to set the wards. Lucky for Corine that Jesse shows up to save her life and rescue Chance. As all three rescue Shannon and deliver those who were betrayed.
Corine Solomon is collecting on the debt Chance owes her from the help she gave him in Blue Diablo. Together, they will find the twelve people responsible for her mother’s death 14 years before. She will use her Gift of psychometry to learn what she can. They intend that Chance‘s Gift of luck will ease their hunt. Butch is a chihuahua they “inherited” in their last adventure in Laredo. He seems to have a gift for communication and finding evil. Jesse Saldana has the Gift of empathy and is mentoring Corine about the Gifted world. He was the detective in charge of Mina’s disappearance in Blue Diablo. He’s also a rival of Chance’s for Corine.
Ian Booke is an English Internet friend of Chuch’s with an expertise in hermetic magic and astral projection. Not that it’s much use in this town! Chuch and the pregnant Eva Obregón stayed behind in Laredo but try to keep in touch by phone. Well, when Corine and Chance are in a warded space anyway.
Edna is the evil librarian while Mr. McGee is its handyman with a warning for Corine. The scary Sandra Cheney has inherited her aunt’s inn where Corine and Chance first stay and soon flee when someone begins to lay down a ward around their room. Her husband Jim is terrified and their daughter Shannon soon runs away from home and to Corine and Chance. A Gifted daughter who uses her talent to speak with ghosts. Miz Ruth is another foster parent; her husband Glen has been missing since he went on a hunting trip two weeks ago. The cat disappeared a year ago. Phil Regis is the realtor who rents them the house despite all the efforts of his enamored secretary, Agnes Pettigrew, to prevent them seeing him. Augustus England runs the newspaper. Harlan Cooper is the new school principal. He also seems to be England’s bodyguard. Sheriff Robinson does his best to jail either or both of them. Lucky for them that Jesse showed up.
Miss Minnie is the only foster parent Corine remembers with any affection. It’s after dinner with Miss Minnie, that she has a premonition loaded with clues for the quartet. The hippie-ish Dale Graham is a reporter on the town newspaper. He’s been tracking the odd events that have wracked Kilmer for the past few years. The man who tries to rob or kill Miss Minnie, Curtis Farrell, provides some critical clues.
Montoya is a drug dealer out for blood after Corine, Chance, and Jesse destroyed his plans in Blue Diablo.
The cover is greens and reds with a curious Corine dressed in her concha-belted, low-slung jeans, and cropped top leaning against Chance’s cherry red Mustang when it’s parked at the city limits to Kilmer along a winding highway, massive trees lining the road.
The title is another drink that Corine favors.