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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
In a Black Monk Funk by Gloria Lesher is the second book in the Paranormal Case Files series. Dr. Blythe Golightly is on a mission to claim a stolen scroll when she catches sight of the Black Monk, the very same that Anton Chekhov wrote about, who has the same goal she has. She goes to meet a US customs agent at a ranch considered to be a thief's refuge but she later discovers the agent's body. A murderer is staying at the ranch and Blythe is determined to find out who among her suspects is guilty, whether it's the thieving magician and his apprentice, the guests, or the Black Monk himself. She refuses to be scared away even if it puts her directly into the killer's sights and searches for answers behind a conspiracy even if the truth is terrifying. Her ally is a ranch foreman she's not sure she can trust but together they have a chance to uncover more than a murderer.
Gloria Lesher has delivered a unique reading experience unlike any other mystery you've read. The blend of paranormal and folklore gives a spark of originality to liven up the cozy mystery elements and shake up the genre. The plot is based on the tale of The Black Monk by Anton Chekhov, woven into this paranormal mystery and adding richness to the setting while also setting the stakes high with the threat of the supernatural. The paranormal world is fascinating with touches of lore from Jewish and Christian cultures, and beings from a religious background such as jinn, angels, and Nephilim. Lesher has created a breath of fresh air different from your standard cozy with the supernatural background and religious lore at the core of the spooky happenings.
The book has a Murder She Wrote flair seen through Blythe being a retired widow that happens to stumble upon a murder everywhere she goes and tends to investigate spooky occurrences. Blythe is a great protagonist with a snarky and sassy personality that is lively, charming, and strong-willed. She gives the story a spunkiness that makes it charming and delightful to read, thanks to Lesher's great command of Blythe's voice. A highly recommended read with a clever protagonist. In a Black Monk Funk has a supernatural core that delves into lore from Christian and Jewish traditions, a charming tone, humorous dialogue, dangerous situations, and a ranch setting.