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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Hanging Tobacco: Parlor Game Mysteries, Volume 1 is a paranormal investigator/murder mystery written by Linda S Browning. Olivia Jane Honeycutt’s career as a successful journalist took a strange turn due to her old college friend’s love of yard sales. While the two of them were “yard-sailing”, Liv had noticed the ouija board resting in its old cardboard box, and the sight of it had rekindled memories of being part of a group of ten-year-olds and excitedly asking the spirits to speak with them. When she and Angie toyed with it that evening over a glass of wine, they were stunned when the planchette seemed to have a life of its own. The board knew where Liv had bought it, and the planchette duly spelled out the street address. Then it became apparent that Liv and Angie had contacted someone -- her name was Sophie Mathews, and she had been murdered on a picnic outing when she was fifteen. Helping to find Sophie’s killer after more than forty years was probably the most satisfying bit of investigative journalism Liv had encountered. It was also how she met her current love interest, Detective Presley Warren of the Hendersonville Police Department. Four months into their relationship, one of Presley’s colleagues is hoping Liv can help him solve a cold case from the 1990s. Henry Meyer, a tobacco farmer with a tract of land eagerly sought after by a housing developer, was found hanging from the rafters of his barn by one of his sons. No one he knew believed he had committed suicide, and the positioning of his body made the mystery even more compelling. He would have had to fly to get up there.
Linda S. Browning’s paranormal investigator/murder mystery, Hanging Tobacco: Parlor Game Mysteries, Volume 1, is guaranteed to delight anyone who’s dabbled with a ouija board in the past or wondered what it would be like to do so. Having some strong convictions myself on never, ever wanting to tempt the ouija board spirits again, I was immediately impressed by Liv and Angie’s decision to embark on their supernatural quest. I loved how Browning turned that night’s harmless entertainment into a quest for justice, first for Sophie Mathews and later for Henry Meyer. Browning’s investigative journalist, Liv Honeycutt, is a marvelous main character whose prodigious spirit and courage belie her petite physical stature, and her conversations with Sophie and Henry are both moving and beautifully rendered. I particularly loved reading the passage about her first interaction with Henry, the two of them conversing in his old barn with the tobacco leaves hanging above them in the rafters and the sweet smell of tobacco scenting the air. Readers should be sure to read Parlor Game, the bonus short story that precedes Hanging Tobacco, as it sets the stage for the story. I’m looking forward to Liv Honeycutt’s next paranormal investigation. Hanging Tobacco: Parlor Game Mysteries, Volume 1 is most highly recommended.