Table of Contents
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JULIET BLACKWELL
THE WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES
A Cast-off Coven
“If you like your mysteries with a side of spell casting and demon vanquishing, you’ll enjoy the second title in Blackwell’s Witchcraft mysteries.”
“This awesome paranormal mystery stars a terrific heroine.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“Juliet Blackwell provides a terrific urban fantasy with the opening of the Witchcraft Mystery series.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“An excellent blend of mystery, paranormal, and light humor, creating a cozy that is a must read for anyone with an interest in literature with paranormal elements.”
—The Romance Readers Connection
“It’s a fun story, with romance possibilities with a couple hunky men, terrific vintage clothing, and the enchanting Oscar. But there is so much more to this book. It has serious depth.”
—The Herald News
THE HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION SERIES
If Walls Could Talk
“This book is filled with quick wit and chuckles throughout, and is one of the best cozy reads out there.”
“This is the first entry in the Haunted Home Renovation series, and it promises to be a load of fun.”
THE ART LOVER’S MYSTERIES BY JULIET BLACKWELL WRITING AS HAILEY LIND
Brush with Death
“Lind deftly combines a smart and witty sleuth with entertaining characters who are all engaged in a fascinating new adventure.”
“If you enjoy Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy series, or Ian Pears’s art history mysteries . . . then you will enjoy
“An artfully crafted new mystery series!”
—Tim Myers, Agatha Award–nominated author of
A Mold for Murder
“The art world is murder in this witty and entertaining mystery!”
—Cleo Coyle, national bestselling author of
Feint of Art
“Annie Kincaid is a wonderful cozy heroine.... It’s a rollicking good read.”
ALSO IN THE WITCHCRAFT MYSTERY SERIES
A Cast-off Coven
THE HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION MYSTERY SERIES
If Walls Could Talk
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, June 2011
Copyright © Julie Goodson-Lawes, 2011
eISBN : 978-1-101-51549-5
If Walls Could Talk
© Julie Goodson-Lawes, 2010
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To Jane Lawes
Thank you for the magic—
I miss you so.
Thank you to my wonderful editor, Kerry Donovan—and congratulations on the new human, Reed! And to my literary agent, Kristin Lindstrom, who is unflagging in her support.
Special thanks to R.G. for allowing me to witness your spell casting and to glimpse a bit of your world. And to Renna Santini for answering my numerous (and no doubt obnoxious) questions about the Rom and traditional healing spells.
Muchísimas gracias a Cathy Romero por enseñarme en las tradiciones mexicanas.
We authors require many supportive shoulders on which to lean, and ears in which to whine. . . . I couldn’t manage without my fellow writers. Many thanks to my fellow Pens Fatales (www.pensfatales.com
). To Mario Acevedo, Rachael Herron, Nicole Peeler, Cornelia Read, Steve Hockensmith, and so many more for promoting my witchy ways. And to Sophie Littlefield for putting up with all my secret nastiness . . . and making it seem like a feature rather than a failing. You are amazing.
And to the long list of friends and neighbors that I thank in almost every book—you know who you are, and you all serve to make this life an adventure. I am privileged to know you, and it’s no exaggeration to say I could never be what I am without your love and support . . . and cocktails! You are my family.
To my mother, Jane, and father, Bob, and sisters, Susan and Carolyn. Thank you for giving me the kind of start in life that everyone should be lucky enough to have. And for continuing to be there for me, even when I’m crazed. Your support means more than you know.
To Jace, for making me laugh just about every day—and for whipping the next generation of schoolchildren into shape. And to my guy, Sergio . . . you are, were, and always will be an inspiration to me.
And finally to Oscar, my neighbor’s little black cat . . . I put “smoked ham” on the grocery list.
’Tis the night—the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they—it is they.
—ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE
It didn’t take a witch to figure out something was very, very wrong on the thirteenth floor of the Doppler Building.
It wasn’t called the thirteenth floor, of course. It was the penthouse, and Malachi Zazi lived there. Or . . .
to live there. At the moment his body was splayed atop a long banquet table, a jagged shard from a shattered mirror protruding from his chest. Deep red blood spatter created a gruesome Rorschach pattern on the snowy white Belgian lace tablecloth.
I took a deep breath and concentrated on not losing my lunch.
Most days I deal in vintage clothing, not corpses. I may be a natural-born witch, but I’m no more comfortable around violent death than any other mortal merchant on Haight Street.
I was here only because SFPD inspector Carlos Romero had asked for my help. I now understood why.
“When was he found?” I asked.
“This morning,” said Inspector Romero. “By his housekeeper.”
“Time of death?”
“Medical examiner hasn’t determined that, but the victim had guests for a midnight supper. The last ones apparently left around two thirty.”
“The body hasn’t been moved? The legs were pointed toward the door like this?”
The inspector nodded. “Everything’s as it was found. Including the bird.”
As if on cue, a small brown sparrow swooped past me and landed on the table near the corpse. It chirped and hopped about, then flew away. I jumped when a black cat sprang onto the tabletop and gave chase. Feather and fur disappeared into the bedroom.
I clutched my medicine bag and whispered a quick protective chant.
Romero scoffed. “I didn’t think witches were scared of black cats.”
“I’m not. But a sparrow trapped in the house is a sign of death at hand.”
“Yeah, well, we got a dead guy on the table.”
“But the bird . . .” I shook my head. “Death is still lurking. It’s a bad sign.”