A psychic has been murdered in an occult ceremony and the police pay a visit to Riga Hayworth, metaphysical detective. But this time, she’s not a consultant on the case, she’s a suspect.
There’s a storm on the horizon. Riga’s lost her magic, and has come to Lake Tahoe to recover and spend quality time with her new love. But life for Riga is never that simple. A psychic’s been murdered, and the police believe Riga has a connection to the crime. They’re right. And if that’s not enough, Riga is drafted as the host of a reality TV show about the local lake monster, and her niece is rejecting her metaphysical abilities. Juggling demons, daimons, and angry tarot card readers, Riga must catch a killer before she becomes the next target.
The Alchemical Detective is a paranormal mystery that explores a world of alchemy and the imagination.
The egg quivered, then rolled, seemingly of its own accord, to the edge of the counter.
Riga stared at it, her violet-colored eyes narrowed in concentration. Magic, she reminded herself, was a matter of will and she had that in spades. However, it was also a matter of focus and in this area, she was lacking.
The egg trembled, then slowly rose into the air; one inch, two inches, five.
“Yes,” Brigitte said encouragingly, her voice a French-accented Lauren Bacall. Her stone claws tensed, gouging tracks in the linoleum countertop.
The egg exploded, splattering the gargoyle with shell and yolk.
Brigitte shrieked, the sound of rocks scraping against each together. “Faugh! Water! Bring ze water!”
Riga hurried to the sink and turned on the tap, frustration wrinkling her brow. She grabbed a dishtowel and soaked it in warm water. Her hands trembled and Riga swore under her breath. Two months ago, this would have been easy.
At first she’d thought her magic was gone. Now Riga knew it had gone haywire and her rehab attempts weren’t working. If anything, her magic had become more unpredictable, more dangerous. She only dared practice with Brigitte because the centuries-old gargoyle was made of stone. But even Brigitte wasn’t indestructible.
Someone beat upon the front door and Riga whipped around, startled. She should have sensed whoever was coming up the steps. Another small failure. More pounding; the cheap wooden door vibrated beneath the blows.
“Police! Open the door!”
Gargoyle and woman looked at each other. Woman acted first. Riga tossed the towel in the sink. “Don’t move,” she said to Brigitte.
“But ze egg. It dries like cement,” Brigitte wailed.
“Later.” Riga hurried to the door and flung it open. A chilly blast of pine-scented air swept inside, tossing Riga’s auburn hair and stinging her skin.
Two sheriffs stood before her in wide brimmed hats and heavy dark brown parkas. Riga might have taken them for rangers had it not been for their belts, strapped with weapons, slung low on their hips. The older one had his fist raised for another round of door pummeling. He lowered it with what looked like regret. He was bulky, bearlike, with steel blue eyes, and she imagined he enjoyed making the door shiver beneath his fist. The tag under his badge read: Sheriff John King. The badge itself: El Dorado County.
“I heard a woman scream,” King said.
“I banged my shin on the coffee table,” Riga said.
“Are you alone?” He peered over Riga’s shoulder. It wasn’t hard – Riga was five foot six, and he stood well over six feet tall, imposing in every direction.
“Yes. Can I help you?” Riga didn’t budge, unwilling to let them in. It wasn’t that Riga didn’t like cops; she was friends with plenty of them, when they were out of uniform.
“It was quite a scream,” he said.
She quirked her lips. “Now you’re just embarrassing me.”
The Sheriff looked at her. She returned his gaze. The silence stretched between them.
The Deputy coughed. “Are you Ms. Hayworth?” he asked. Riga figured him for his early thirties, which meant she had a decade on him. He was well built, and between the startling pale blue of his eyes and the chiseled planes of his face, would have looked at home on a magazine cover. But Riga’s gaze was drawn to the Sheriff. The Deputy had youth, the Sheriff had presence.
“I’m Riga Hayworth.”
“My name is Night, Deputy Night. May we come in? Please?” He smiled ruefully, exposing dimples and gleaming white teeth. “It’s kind of cold out here.”
Riga hesitated. But she wasn’t wearing a coat and was freezing in the doorway. She could feel the heat from the cabin oozing past her, out the door. “Okay.” Reluctantly, she stepped back, and allowed them past her.
Hands resting on the butts of their guns, they prowled the room as if they owned the place. They could have it, for all Riga cared. It was one of the lower-end tourist cabins, crammed with a mis-matched jumble of seventies era furniture. A giant picture window looked out upon a forest scene: pines, and patches of snow wetting the ground. The afternoon sun slanted low in the sky, sending beams of light glittering through damp tree branches.
Brigitte, still covered in egg, had shifted to face the cabin’s small living room. The deputy stared at the gargoyle, walked to Brigitte, and ran his hands across her stony feathers as if in a caress. Brigitte would love that, Riga thought.
“Cool harpy,” he said. “Where’d you find it?”
Night tucked his hat under one arm, and ruffled his blond hair with his free hand. “Do you know it’s got egg on it?”
“Forget the statue,” the Sheriff barked. Turning, he stumbled over a cheap American-Indian themed rug. “Miss Hayworth, may we sit down?”
She indicated the lumpy sofa, a cruel gesture given the state of its springs, but she didn’t want them to linger.
What I Liked:
This story was a fun and original mystery with a witchy twist. I loved Riga's character and the play on the movie star angle. The gargoyle in the opening scene was great. A witch having her powers going awry is a great plot and when you combine that with a murder investigation and characters like Riga, you are in for a treat!!
What I Didn't:
Not a thing.
This story reminds me of cozy mysteries that I love, with the witchy twist that makes a story irresistible. Brigitte, the gargoyle was a nice touch, and having a witch with wonky magic makes things pretty unpredictable and I like that. The magical elements, romance, family drama and a dash of murder thrown in make this a book that really grabbed my attention. I did not feel lost that I read this one first, even though it is the second in the series. *( The first book was great too) Kirsten Weiss does a great job recapping just enough so you can latch onto the story without making it too obvious. The plot moves, dialogue is believable, action well done and in all an enjoyable read. I will be reading this whole series and can't wait to get the third one!!
The Secret of the Philosopher’s Stone
"In speaking of the Philosopher's Stone, receive this stone which is not a stone, a precious thing that has no value, a thing of many shapes that has no shape, this unknown which is known by all."
--Zosimos, Ancient Greek Alchemist
So here’s the thing about alchemy: it makes no sense. None. The instructions are written in riddles and metaphors, by Renaissance magicians who’s English is as clear as a Shakespearean sonnet (i.e not at all). Still, I think it’s fascinating, maybe because it is so damned mysterious. It allowed me to be equally mysterious when I wove the philosophy into The Alchemical Detective. My friends, however, wouldn’t put up with that. They wanted actual answers, not riddles. How does alchemy work?
Here’s the best I can come up with:
Eckert Tolle tells a story about the darkest point in his life. He was suicidal, and thought, “I can’t live with myself anymore.” And then he wondered who the “I” was who couldn’t live with himself.
This, in a nutshell, is the Philosopher’s Stone of alchemy.
Go back to the Renaissance, to alchemists struggling to understand the nature of the universe and of themselves. The alchemical process begins and ends with the Philosopher’s Stone, a mysterious element that can turn lead to gold. According to the riddles, it’s everywhere, but almost no one sees it. In most “histories” of alchemy, the alchemist only discovers it after a long search, and then laughs at the seeming commonness of the material.
According to the texts, the alchemist worked with the stone and his other raw materials – mercury, salt and sulfur – purifying them through a series of heating and cooling to create… the Philosopher’s Stone.
Why bother to create the Philosopher’s Stone, if you’ve already got it? Because it’s a heck of a lot of work, taking years, or even decades to achieve. The answer lies in those obscure riddles and metaphors.
Think about it. How could a Renaissance philosopher, in the days before the concept of ego and unconscious, describe such things? And if the Philosopher’s Stone is the “I”, the true self behind our egoic personalities, then its discovery is only the beginning of the process. Just because you’ve recognized that there is something eternal in you beyond the ego, doesn’t mean you can live from that space. There’s usually a long, hard journey involved.
So is alchemy paranormal or psychological? I think the answer is: both.
A commonly held belief in magic today is that to create magical change in the world, you have to transform yourself. When you change, the way you see and affect the world changes. It sounds simple, but as metaphysical detective, Riga Hayworth, discovers in The Alchemical Detective, change is never easy and often painful – particularly when the process is interrupted by a serial killer and a reality TV show about a local lake monster.
Kirsten Weiss is the author of two paranormal mysteries available on the Kindle: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, and The Alchemical Detective. She is hard at work on the sequel, The Shamanic Detective.
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching True Blood and drinking good wine.
Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/RigaHayworth, view her world boards on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/kirstenweiss/or check out her blog at http://kirstenweiss.com
Author site/blog: http://kirstenweiss.com
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