Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On the Library Table: The Divine Circle of Ladies Rocking the Boat

The Divine Circle of Ladies Rocking the Boat: The 6th Cass Shipton Adventure
by Dolores Stewart Riccio

This is the sixth enchanting volume in "The Divine Circle of Ladies" series by Dolores Stewart Riccio. As the novel begins, Deidre's husband has passed away, and the other four members of the Plymouth circle (or coven) have resolved to take Deidre on a Caribbean cruise to cheer her up. Arrangements have been made for a leisurely voyage on the good Liberian ship "The Norse Goddess of the Sea" right through the Bermuda Triangle and on to Bermuda, just in time to celebrate Samhain (Halloween) on a tropical island beach.

Herbalist Cassandra Shipton's husband, Joe Ulysses, a marine engineer with Greenpeace, has volunteered to stay home and tend both altar fires and canines. Cass, Phillipa, Heather, Fiona and Deidre are looking forward to a relaxing holiday on the high seas, far from murderers, thieves, vandals, poisoners and arsonists. Little do they know that their cruise is to be anything but peaceful...

Before leaving home, the clairvoyant Cass has a vision of a young woman in a shroud falling away into darkness, and her coven mate turns up the Ten of Swords in a tarot reading, a card portending dire misfortune and possibly death. Within a short time of arriving on the ship, it becomes clear that a restful holiday is not in the cards for the five pagan sleuths. The cabin which Deidre is sharing with her two older children is haunted by a phantom female presence wearing a lace veil and a seaweed draped wedding gown, and Cass's visions return again and again. The circle decides to investigate and learns that on the previous voyage, a young woman on her honeymoon vanished without a trace. When a spell of rough weather sets in, and a second young woman vanishes, the five women realize that a murderer is on board and plying his deadly trade. The murderer manages to convince the authorities on the ship that he is innocent, but the circle knows better. When the evildoer follows the women back to Plymouth, intending to silence them forever, he comes to a salty end, and his drowning may have been arranged by his victims, acting from the bottom of the sea.

I've been a devoted fan of "The Divine Circle of Ladies" mystery series since I received the first volume as a birthday gift shortly after it was published. These are fine ripping mysteries, and they are a great pleasure to read. The characters are drawn wonderfully, and the novels engage and amuse the reader - they delight on the very first reading, and they continue to do so on every reading thereafter. Every once in a while I go back and read the whole series over again, and I come away from every reading liking these fey and spirited women very much and wishing they lived in my part of the world. If they were real, I would consider moving to Plymouth.

Seven novels in the series have been published so far, and they are available on Amazon; they may also be ordered from Dolores at her website. She is also a gifted poet and a fine inventive chef, and I highly recommend a visit. There is (of course) a wealth of information on her books there, but beautiful poetry and delicious recipes await you too. In chronological order, the "Divine Circle" mysteries are:

Circle of Five
Charmed Circle
The Divine Circle Of Ladies Making Mischief
The Divine Circle of Ladies Courting Trouble
The Divine Circle of Ladies Playing With Fire
The Divine Circle of Ladies Rocking the Boat
The Divine Circle of Ladies Tipping the Scales (new)

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