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Black Magic—The Erin O’Reilly Mysteries
By Steven Henry, Published by Clickworks Press

Black Magic is an exciting, thrilling, and fast-paced read. Steven Henry has created believable characters, and the main one is Erin O’Reilly herself. She is a detective with the NYPD’s Major Crimes Division. Her faithful companion is Rolf- a K9 member of the NYPD.

Before being elevated to detective, Erin was a beat cop. “Erin was a career cop who’d spend eleven years working Patrol before earning her gold shield. She had good instincts that kept her alive.”

A magician’s assistant was killed on stage before six-hundred people! The magician’s cutting machine malfunctioned. The case takes Erin’s complete attention. “It was an indication of how preoccupied she was that she’d gone a good block and a half from the precinct before she realized she was being followed.”

“She knew it with the sudden tingle on the back of her neck that every good street cop learned not to ignore.”

This happens early in the book—ad the reader is completely hooked. We are ready to accompany Erin on her investigation of the murder.

The biographical information about the author, who writes with such power and drama, is sparse. All I could find is: “Steven Henry is the USA Today best-selling author of the Erin O’Reilly mysteries. He lives a very quiet life in Minnesota with his wife.”

As the detectives track down suspects to interview, Erin and another detective go to a garage in Brooklyn where the suspect works. As they approach the rundown garage, Erin says to the detective: “Looks like they’re running a chop-shop…the crummy old cars were cover. I expect they move the real merchandise through as fast as they can.”

They arrest the two operators of the chop-shop. In the interview room, the one she wants to talk with is cuffed to the table. Erin observes, “He looked like a random blue-collar guy, like the neighbors she had grown up with in Queens. Pudgy, middle-aged, balding. The sort of guy you’d call if your plumbing clogged up. On the other hand, “murderers could look harmless. It didn’t pay to make assumptions.”

Missing in the case of the murdered woman is motive. Why was she murdered?

Erin, and the other detective, go to search the murdered assistant’s hotel room. They find nothing. Then Erin “did the old trick her dad taught her, he was a retired street cop, closing her eyes, taking a deep breath, and opening them again, taking in the scene with fresh eyes.”

“Erin took her time, letting her eyes wander from one thing to another. Then she saw it. The chair by the window had a set of small, circular depressions in the carpet that didn’t quite line up with the chair legs.”

“That’s been moved, she said quietly. There was no obvious reason to have moved the chair.” She says to the other detective: “It looks more like someone was using the chair as a stepstool. She looks behind the window curtain.”

“I think something’s wedged in there…She could hardly see it, it was hidden behind the curtain…taped in place where it was almost impossible to spot.”

The other detective was taller and was able to pull down a manila envelope. “Wordlessly, he opened the envelope on the bed. Tight wrapped bundles of twenty-dollar bills poured out…”the total was $30,000 dollars. The detective had their motive. Where did the magician’s assistant get the money? Had she stolen it from someone who wanted revenge?”

Erin goes to the empty theatre to view the crime scene again and finds the magician there. He confesses to the murder and Erin begins to arrest. He escapes into a basement hallway.

As she chases him, he sets off smoke bombs to make everything dark. He’s finally cornered. He throws a knife at her. Luckily, she ducks and it hits her above her right elbow. Her K9 dog, Rolf, leaps on him and sinks his teeth into the magician’s right forearm. Infuriated now, the dog crunches the bones in it.

He is now arrested for murder and attempted murder of a policewoman. He arrogantly says, “I’ll be filing against the department, of course. Excessive force—your animal broke my arm. This is a career affecting injury. When my lawyer hears…”

The other detective says, “You’re just lucky my partner is more forgiving than I am. I would take this knife out of her and shove it up your magic a..”

Erin O’Reilly shows an example of great determination to bring justice to the world and to make it a better place. She brings hope to us all. I look forward to reading more Erin O’Reilly mysteries. #

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