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Spirits and Smoke by Mary Miley (historical cosy mystery)

SPIRITS AND SMOKE Mary Miley

Goodreads Description

Deadly drinks, vicious gangsters, missing money . . . Reluctant sleuth Maddie Pastore is back with a bang, in the second Mystic’s Accomplice historical mystery set in 1920s Chicago.

December, 1924. Young widow Maddie Pastore feels fortunate to be employed by the well-meaning but fraudulent medium Carlotta Romany. Investigating Carlotta’s clients isn’t work she’s proud of, but she’s proud of how well she does it.

Maddie’s talents, however, draw them unwelcome attention: sharp-eyed Officer O’Rourke from the Chicago Police. He doesn’t believe in spiritualism – but in a city packed with mobsters, con artists and criminals, he’ll take any help he can get.

It’s not long before Maddie has a case to bring him. Why did teetotal banker Herman Quillen die of alcohol poisoning? And who is the gold-toothed man claiming to be his brother, and demanding the spirits reveal where Herman hid his money?

All Maddie wants is to uncover the truth – but to her horror, she’s soon mixed up in a tangled web of secrets and deception that leads to the heart of Chicago’s violent gangs . . . and she’ll need all her wits about her if she, and her loved ones, are going to make it out again alive.

Spirits and Smoke, the sequel to The Mystic’s Accomplice, to is an ideal pick for readers who enjoy Jazz Age mysteries with feisty female sleuths, sparkling historical detail and Prohibition high-jinks.

Thursday Quotables Meme

This is the second instalment in the historical cosy mystery sereis Maddie Pastore Mysteries and is up to the series debut, The Mystic’s Apprentice

The story runs on two parallel tracks. On the one hand, the mystery. Maddie learns of a possible murder from the séance she helps to stage. She involves the police – while she’s becoming involved with a certain cop, too. On the other hand, we learn more about Maddie’s personal life as she discovers unexpected things about her late husband. 

I’ll admit that I became more interested in Maddie’s life than the actual mystery at a certain point. She’s discovering things about her husband’s ‘first’ wife, and honestly, I am wondering what’s the entire story there because, sure, it feels like there is a lot to discover and maybe not everything so good. And maybe I feel more involved because this is so important to Maddie, where solving the mystery is only a matter of civic duty, after all.

But the mystery of the banker who died from poisoned alcohol is also intriguing. It also allows showing life as it was for the working class in 1920s Chicago. 

This is one thing I really appreciate about Miley’s characters: they are real people. They are the common people who struggled to make ends meet and did the best they could with the little they had. I prefer this kind of historical novel to the ones stuffed with big names. 

It’s a good novel, very easy to read. Miley’s style is so smooth and friendly. A nice cosy mystery with a bit of spicy danger. 

It was fun.

Spirits and Smoke by @marymileytheo #BookReview A historical cosy mystery set in 1920s New York. Being a mystic accomplice might be the perfect way to solve murders #amreading #historicalmystery Click To Tweet

Spirit and Smoke

An Excerpt

‘Please to meet you, Mrs Pastore. And which of us do you take for the elder brother?’

Officer O’Rourke rolled his eyes but remained silent. He knew the drill. I studied their faces again, the square jaws, blue irises, sandy hair. Then it came to me – it was a trick question. They were twins, just not identical. ‘I think you are the same age, but you can’t expect me to guess who was born first.’

Thursday Quotables 2022 Spirits and Smoke by Mary Miley

‘Ring the bell, Mrs Pastore, clever lass! But I am the elder by half and hours, and sad to say this copper shows no respect for my greater degree of sophistication and worldly experience.’ Officer O’Rourke rolled his eyes towards heaven again. ‘I see you are out for a stroll on this fine day with your baby brother.’

The sound of my own laughter startled me. Laughing wasn’t something I did very often. I tried to straighten my face at the outrageous compliment. ‘no, Mr O’ourke, this is my son, Tommy, named after his father.’

A fine-looking boy, as all the world must agree. What is he now, about nine months?’

‘Close to six. Does your greater experience include raising children of your own?’

‘Sadly, I have not been able to persuade any eligible young lady to share my name. They all want me to take up steady employment like my younger brother here, and I am not so inclined.’

‘He’s a painter,’ said Officer O’Rourke by way of explanation.

‘But a painter is a fine profession. Surely there is enough indoor work during the winter months to keep you busy.’

‘Alas, I am not that sort of painter. I am the canvas sort. And the public has not yet discovered my genius, so I must toil in a garret and beg for my beer.’ So saying, he reached for his mug and took a swing.

“Well, I hope that in the years to come, I will be able to impress people when I tell them I once met the famous artist, Liam O’Rourke.’


The Thursday Quotables  was originally a weekly post created by Lisa Wolf for her book blog Bookshelf Fantasy . It isn’t a weekly post anymore, not even for Lisa, but just like her, I still love to share my favourite reads on Thursdays and I still use the original template which included an excerpt.

NOTE: This blog contains affiliate links (including Amazon links) to the book I independently review. When you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for advertising the product (at no extra cost to you).


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