Review of The Squawking Dead by Erin Johnson

Jolene, Peter and the gang are getting ever closer to figuring out a way to nail that good for nothing Ludolf, and I can’t wait to see just how they do it.

When the owner of an animal sanctuary is found dead inside one of the cages, Jolene teams up with her hot cop boyfriend and his lie sniffing dog to catch the killer. But with rumors that the victim axed her millionaire husband, a second body, and a missing phoenix thrown in the mix, it’s turning into a zoo of a case.

On top of everything, the animals are giving her the silent treatment, and Jolene fears the sanctuary is hiding a dark secret. 

Will this cursed witch be able to find the fire bird before it combusts, and bring the truth of the murders to light? Or will Jolene get burned as the whole thing goes up in flames?

The Squawking Dead is the seventh novel in the hilarious and enchanting Magic Market paranormal cozy mystery series. If you like talking animal sidekicks, delicious riddles, and cheeky female leads, then you’ll love Erin Johnson’s enchanting tale.

Available on Amazon and via Kindle Unlimited.

What an interesting premise. I was hooked by the blurb of this book. At first I thought the reference to fire was more metaphorical but it was a very literal description of the main protagonist, Miles. Bella, however is not an ice queen. She’s a woman who plays her cards close to her chest and doesn’t let people in too easily. So how do fire and ice mix? Well… with lots of sizzle.

What did I enjoy about this book:

  • Miles’ condition, which is less magical and more an interesting genetic effect.
  • The glimpses into prep for a major musical production and tour
  • Bosco, the dog, may have been my favorite with his well timed antics – that scene with Corey is just too funny (you’ll have to read the book to see..)
  • The relationship between Bella and her mother
  • Bella’s flashbacks to life with her father and even when he died and how they shaped her present.
  • The love between Bella and Miles is definitely a highlight of this tale!

Some areas I think could be stronger:

  • Dialogue at times could be more natural. It was a bit repetitive as there was little variation between the speech patterns of different characters.
  • I loved the idea of the Alt Knights and the threat they posed to Bella and Miles. I wish that angle had been developed and played up more. It would have massively ramped up the suspense and intrigue element.

Overall, I found the world created by this story to be quite immersive. I wanted to know more and I’d certainly love a chance to attend an Ari concert!

Author Erin Johnson promised a Tiger King-esq read and boy did she deliver! Instead of large cats we were treated to wild and mythical animals. When the grand Night of the Phoenix party abruptly ends with the discovery of two dead bodies, Jolene and Peter are on hand to start investigating the case.

While one victim remains unidentified for quite some time, the other is quickly revealed to be sanctuary owner, Malorie Rutherford, a woman with a colourful past and one who owes her wealth to a husband who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The suspect range includes the current husband, the zookeeper, the former zookeeper, the animal protection agency and a former stepdaughter too. Each suspect has motive and opportunity. Clues are dropped at a good pace and the red herrings make the reader doubt their conclusions.

The main mystery intersects with Jolene’s over arching series investigation into Ludolf Caterwaul, king of the shifter underworld. In this installment, Jolene gets ever closer to revealing the truly evil machinations of the man who cursed her. She knows much of the truth behind the man but discovers just how truly deep his prejudices run.

The next book in the series will be the last and promises to be a grand finale with appearances from the stars of the Spells and Caramels series. I can’t wait to ‘see’ them again and look forward to how they all bring Ludolf down.

I give The Squawking Dead 4/5 espresso shots.

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