In The Fifth Petal, a young man in Salem, Massachusetts, dies under mysterious circumstances. The woman suspected by the town of the committing the boy’s murder is a mentally unbalanced, former scholar who believes the trees talk to her and a banshee resides within her. This woman is also tied to the unsolved, violent murders of three young women in the 1980’s, who were related to women hanged as witches in the 1600’s. A new sheriff re-opens the unsolved case, believing all four deaths may be connected, while the now-grown girl who witnessed the three women’s murders returns to Salem to understand her past.
Brunonia Barry masterfully crafted this novel. Barry clearly took great care with her research, so this novel has a realistic sense of place and history. Furthermore, although she combines delightful elements of the supernatural, they do not overwhelm the mystery, but complement it. Finally, the mystery itself is solid and will keep readers turning the pages until the very end. The Fifth Petal is the second in a series, and fans of supernatural mysteries will be looking for more books in that series.
(Review copy received through Netgalley.)