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Knock on Wood by Linda O. Johnston~ Book Review (2015 paranormal cozy mystery)

Knock on Wood by Linda O. Johnston~ Book Review (2015 paranormal cozy mystery)Author: Linda O. Johnston
Title: Knock on Wood
Series: Superstition Mystery #2
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Pages: 336
Release Date: October 8th, 2015
Genres: Mystery & Thriller
Knock on Wood Synopsis~

Rory Chasen, now the manager of the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, California, is delighted when her closest friend Gemma Grayfield, a librarian, comes for a visit. But Gemma arrives early and seems upset. It turns out she has broken up with her boyfriend, Frank Shorester. Gemma is soon hired to manage the Broken Mirror Bookstore. Frank follows her to Destiny, where Gemma is also wooed by two local men. Rory may be a little jealous—until one of those men, Deputy Mayor Bevin Dermot, turns up dead. Bevin is known for knocking on wood for everything, but despite Destiny being all about superstitions that did not save his life.

Rory tries to help Gemma clear herself of being a murder suspect, even counting on her lucky black and white dog Pluckie to help. But is Gemma guilty of murder—or of just having a run of bad luck?
Format: eARC
Also by this author: Lost Under a Ladder
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*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

KNOCK ON WOOD is the second book in the Superstition Mystery series by Linda O. Johnston.

my review image

Knock on Wood is another book I received a review copy of through Netgalley, but didn’t get it done in time and ended up reading the paperback version. I’m sure it won’t be the last book I read this way; I have a huge backlog of Netgalley books and I much prefer paper over digital.

Anyway, this cozy mystery is about Rory, a pet boutique manager, who lives in a strange town called Destiny where most everyone believes in superstitions. Even those who don’t believe pretend that they do so they can capitalize off of it with the tourists. It isn’t clear if any of the things that happen are actually the result of any superstitions. So, while I group this with the paranormal cozies because of the theme, it isn’t necessarily paranormal. Nevertheless, the premise of the Superstition Mystery series is original and interesting.

Rory’s friend, Gemma, comes to visit. Gemma’s ex-boyfriend follows her to Destiny, which becomes a problem due to other men competing for Gemma’s attention. Gemma is asked to stay in Destiny and take over the bookstore next door to Rory’s pet boutique. When one of the men who is interested in Gemma is murdered, Gemma becomes the main suspect. Once again, it is up to Rory to prove someone’s innocence. She takes it upon herself to find out who the real killer is. I thought Linda O. Johnston did a good job of casting suspicion on multiple characters. I was kept guessing until the end.

My reservations about this series, as expressed in my review of Lost Under Ladder, haven’t changed significantly. I still feel like there is a conflict between what Rory says and does. She claims to be skeptical about superstitions. Yet, her behavior is like that of a believer. Her constant questioning about if everything she encounters or experiences is related to a superstition gets tiresome. I guess this was the author’s way of working in a lot of different superstitions. I just didn’t like how it seemed to conflict with Rory’s claim that she didn’t believe in superstitions. If she didn’t believe in them, why was she obsessing about them all the time?

Also, the book takes a long time to get to the murder–96 pages. I can’t say I was bored; I just didn’t know why it was taking so long to get to the murder I knew was bound to happen.

Another complaint I had is about Gemma and Rory’s relationship. Rory says Gemma is her “bff” but she doesn’t seem to know Gemma well or communicate very well with her.

One of the best aspects of Knock on Wood is the budding relationship between Rory and Justin. It is refreshing to see a romance that takes time to grow. It’s kind of hot and cold, in part because Rory doesn’t know if she is ready to move on after losing her fiance.

I’m not sure if I would read another book in this series, but I don’t want to discourage anyone else from reading it. If you can get past Rory’s annoying repetitiveness and obsession with superstitions, you will probably enjoy Lost Under Ladder and Knock on Wood. The mystery is solid and the setting is unique.


Some Other Books by Linda O. Johnston

Bite the Biscuit - same author as Knock on WoodCanadian Wolf - same author as Knock on WoodTo Catch a Treat - same author as Knock on WoodOnce a Cavalier - same author as Knock on Wood


About Linda O. Johnston

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year. Since then, Linda has had more short stories and novellas published, plus, by the end of 2015, she will have had forty-one novels published, including mysteries and romance.

Linda currently writes two cozy mystery series for Midnight Ink, the Superstition Mysteries and the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, both featuring dogs. She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, which was a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series. And yes, they involved dogs, too.

Linda additionally writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne including the Alpha Force miniseries about a covert military unit of shapeshifters–and all the werewolves also have cover dogs. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, including a miniseries about a non-witness protection program.

Linda, a currently inactive transactional attorney, now writes fiction full-time. She is a member of the Los Angeles chapters of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America, including the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters, as well as International Thriller Writers.

(bio from Goodreads)


Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

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