cover image Spirits and Smoke

Spirits and Smoke

Mary Miley. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5043-0

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, Miley’s vibrant sequel to 2021’s The Mystic’s Accomplice finds young widow and mother Maddie Pastore working as a shill and researcher for spiritualist Madame Carlotta Romany when a thuggish man crashes a séance and demands Carlotta contact his brother, bank teller Herman Quillen, who died after ingesting a poisonous “smoke cocktail.” But when Maddie digs into Quillen’s background, she discovers he had no brother. In fact, Quillen’s sister is convinced her brother was murdered. Who could have wanted the inoffensive and colorless Quillen dead, and who was the mysterious “brother” trying to find out at the séance? Could it have something to do with $100,000 missing out of a huge deposit by the mob at Quillen’s bank? The bagman who’s on the hook for the missing money believes Maddie knows where the money is, and he’s determined to get it from her any way he can. Miley’s storytelling skills do justice to her clever, gutsy, and endearing protagonist. This is a real treat for readers who love stories set in the Roaring ’20s. (Jan.)