Witchcraft – Salem and More

I ‘ve had a couple of questions about my most recent book, Death in Salem. Why didn’t I fully explore the witchcraft angle? Well, as I’ve said in earlier posts, Salem by 1797, was a very cosmopolitan city. It was not only the sixth largest, one of the most diverse (with the first East Indian immigrant populations in the US) but it was also the wealthiest. Salem’s witchcraft past was more an embarrassment.


House of one of the judges.





The witchcraft spell has never completely left Salem, however. On one of our tours, the guide was the descendent of one of the accused witches. Reminders of this past abound.


Graveyard includes memorials to those that were executed.





Although Salem became something other – a huge center of shipping and trading, however, the belief in witchcraft did not fade. In an earlier blog I wrote about trials that continued, right up to one in Russia in 1999. Belief that women are witches never completely disappear.

And I wonder what is behind these accusations? Belief? Greed, malice, revenge? Hatred of women. With Gamer gate and all of the Internet attacks on women we  cannot discount that as a motive.

Christianity certainly plays a part.I think most of us are familiar with the quote from the Bible about not suffering a witch to live. During the middle ages and right up to modern times this has been used to execute any number of innocent people, primarily women.

I will blog  in the future about my research into witchcraft and goddesses – I think the two are tied.

To answer the question I have asked, I decided, that since I did not explore witchcraft and the psychologies behind it in Death in Salem, I would do so in the next book. That book, titled The Devil”s Cold Dish, will be coming out next year. Spoiler alert: it does not take place in Salem.

Release date and new book

“Death in Salem” releases tomorrow. Very excited. And I heard last week that the fifth Will Rees, “The Devil’s Cold Dish” has been accepted by Minotaur and will come out next year. Since I didn’t use witchcraft in the mystery that takes place in Salem, I thought I would use it in the next one. So, a little hint.  Good news all around.

Death in Salem – and the next new book

I am thrilled to announce that I have received my first copies of Death in Salem and they look stunning. Here is the cover:

death in salem

The books look even better in real life. I will probably be having another Goodreads giveaway later in the summer.

To summarize the plot: Will Rees is on a weaving trip and stops in Salem to buy some imported cloth for Lydia. He gets stopped by a funeral and sees an old friend at the head. Anstiss Boothe, the deceased, has been ill a long time but the very next day her husband Jacob. a wealthy Salem merchant, is dead and this time it is clearly murder. Rees has already left Salem but his friend rides after him and draws him back to investigate.

Smuggling, piracy, prostitution, and of course all the dynamics of interpersonal relationships keep Rees investigating.

I had a lot of fun roaming Salem when I researched this book.


shrink wrap

If I may vent a moment about shrink wrap. It now seems to be used for everything and a more non-user friendly device was never invented.

Although I stream music to my phone all the time, I listen to CDs in the car. (I drive a very old car. Besides a CD player it has a tape deck – no kidding!) So I tried to listen to the new CD of Fallout Boys. I couldn’t get the plastic off! With Arctic Monkeys, I managed to get my nail in the plastic and peel it off. The cardboard case opened like a book and the CD was in one sleeve. But Fallout Boys I had to take the package inside the house, slit the plastic with a knife and then cut those little sticky things that hold the OTHER case closed.

Really? (she said snarkily.)

Now lets talk about the plants that come swathed in shrink wrap. As most people who know me, and I count the readers of this blog in that number, know, I am a pretty passionate gardener. Why do they come in shrink wrap instead of straw or something like that? There is nothing more frustrating than getting out to a section of the yard and discovering the plant cannot be put into the ground because it is tightly covered with shrink wrap. I have sometimes been reduced to trying to cut the shrink wrap with my teeth. (Not a good plan, by the way.) I now have set up a little tote bag with scissors and gloves. I try never to forget the bag and now I am thinking of adding secaturs – which are like stronger scissors.

I guess the next step is a belt like the medieval housewives used to wear with keys, scissors and everything else they might need.

Spring Gardening

This is a funny year. I always find surprises, partly because many plants reseed themselves. Tomatoes is one. Random plants come up all over the garden and I can never bear to pull them, which may be one reason I end up with 11 plants.


Two tomato plants came up here along with what looks like squash. And in the background it looks like cabbage even though the package said broccoli. There are four broccolis in front of the cabbage, planted too close.

This year is odd as well. I have flowers on my peas, because they went in late (snow on the ground) and flowers on the tomatoes (begun in the house). Tomatoes and peas at the same time?






tomato flowers






And finally, just something nice. My weigela – I just missed a butterfly on it. I love spring!


Musings on new car colors

My husband and I took a trip over the weekend to visit a friend (a friend that I have had for forty years!). When we drove down 95 I noticed that it was a sea of black, white and silver cars. There were a few burgundy SUVs but from a distance, just like the dark blue and dark green, they looked black. I love seeing the bright red cars. mostly Pickups, that look like bright red tomatoes riding down the road.

Finally, on 85 South, I saw a robin’s egg blue VW beetle and a copper colored KIA.

Where are the rest of the colors? My first car was a Chevy Malibu. It was a beautiful creamy yellow. (In 1973. Can you believe it?) If you go further back, to the time of the movie American Graffiti, the cars were all kinds of colors: Pink, light blue, yellow. I’d like to see royal blue and emerald green, bright red like the pickups, and taxicab yellow

I say, stand up for colorful cars!

Spring Gardening – and insects

I spent a lot of time this past weekend working in the garden: putting in string beans as well as taking out a lot of the winter-killed plants.  (Yes, out of 12 roses, I have only 4 left.) The vegetable garden in enclosed by a fence, and most of the larger yard is fenced to keep out the deer. I coated my gardening pants with off (Deet variety) but I still got bitten by mosquitoes and black flies. Welts all over my ears and neck. But my husband, who was mowing in the front, and unfenced yard, got a tick. And the dog and my grandson (who spends hours running around the yard ‘with the doggy’) both got ticks.

It is the season. Be careful out there.