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A novel by Cate Lawley
(2021, Kindle Direct Publishing)

Night Shift Witch, book 1

When she finds a dead golem on her first night at a funeral parlor job, Star joins forces with her boss and ex-boyfriend to solve its murder.


-- First reading (ebook)
January 18th to 21st, 2021


My first impression was that was a lite book, and not to be taken too seriously. It was vaguely interesting, especially in Star's budding powers. I'm not really into witches and vampires, but it was fun anyway, as they went from one unplanned interview to the next. The investigation was straightforward, but the biggest problem was that they solved the crime about halfway through. I kept waiting for the big twist, that they were wrong, but it never came -just a confession that confirmed what they already suspected, without any real deductive reasoning.

Spoiler review:

I liked the self-depreciating nature of the main character, Star, but she didn’t impress me as an investigator. After landing a job at a funeral parlor, she discovers that the first body she finds is a golem, and it’s been murdered. I guess the special nature of the golem, that it would never be embalmed or buried in the ground, has significance for those who like the paranormal. I’m not one of those people, and picked up the book to get a sense of fantasy murder. Unfortunately, there’s not much of an investigation.

I liked Ben, the funeral director, in constant threat of being mind-wiped. He’s a normal human without an ounce of malice in him, something that Star sees through her witch sight. He has a lot of good ideas, and his naiveté is the best way to ease us into the world in which Star and the other witches live.

Alex, though, is the true investigator. He’s a wizard, and Star’s ex-boyfriend, and he’s been dealing with golems and other paranormals for hundreds of years. The golem looks like a man, and their plan is to burn the golem, as the only way to make sure he’s dead, and create a new body for the ceremony, which has already been planned, and in anticipation of drawing out the murderer. I’m not sure why they want to make sure he’s all the way dead, except that he might be out for revenge, I guess. He seemed to have lived many years as a nondescript member of society, so why not try to revive him if possible?

Of course, he had a wife, a mistress and a girlfriend, who all now become suspects. They interview the wife first, traipsing around almost at midnight, but I guess that doesn’t bother the witching community. Her personal assistant is a vampire, and right away they find a motive for him. Richard apparently shared the affections of the wife, who probably viewed him more like a pet than anything else. But she desperately wanted a child with the golem, so that rules her out as a murder suspect. The mistress seems distressed, but offers little of value except to confirm the wife’s story. And they don’t even get to the girlfriend until the next morning, after they’ve convinced themselves that the wife’s personal assistant, Richard, is the murderer.

They plan to lure him to the funeral and a confession with the girlfriend, but never get that far, because Richard shows up in an attempt to destroy the body (because there’s other unknown evidence that leads to him? We never find out…). There is a shootout, in which Star defends herself and Ben, and Alex shows up. Between the two of them, they manage to disable Richard. Later, they convince the magical ministry to let Ben keep his memory, and create a new post for normal humans for association with witches.

There were several typos and missing words, which was distracting to the story, and several jarring chapter or scene changes, where I thought I’d missed something. The story was fun in what it delivered, which was sarcasm from Star, as well as a sense of being tied to Alex even though they were no longer an item. But the investigation was stale, and barely offered any kind of investigative prowess. They had the murder solved halfway through the book, and were so convinced that all they wanted to do was lure Richard out. No twist, no revelation. Richard simply wanted to be intimate with the wife, and prevent the chance of them having a child. There was no real drama, no mystery. The characters were well drawn, but the story itself lacked substance.


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