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The Fifth Petal

A Novel of Salem

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Could a witch hunt happen again in Salem?

New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader Brunonia Barry returns to Salem with this spellbinding new thriller, a complex brew of suspense, seduction and murder.

When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 28, 2016 – Bestselling author Barry (The Lace Reader) brings readers into the historic town of Salem, Mass., where the parallels between a past crime and the present-day death of a teenage boy at the hanging site of the Salem witches seem all too familiar to the suspicious community. Rose, a once-respected Salem witch-trial historian and scholar who was the primary suspect in the unsolved Goddess murders, which rocked the town nearly 20 years ago, has never been the same after the humiliation of the investigation. Now a mentally unstable outcast, Rose is again the target of public scrutiny concerning the murder of the troubled teen. The chief of police, Rafferty, and Callie, Rose's niece and daughter of one of the murdered women, aren't convinced of Rose's guilt. Whisked away from Salem under the care of nuns after the death of her mother, Callie was the sole witness to the Goddess murders and has been sheltered from much of her family history until news of the murdered boy brings her again to Salem and memories begin flooding back during waking dreams. By reopening the Goddess-murder cases and relying on the power of modern magic, mythology, and history, Callie and Rafferty seek to uncover the true murderer. Dark and suspenseful, Barry's well-constructed tale is filled with traps and red herrings as the truth is slowly revealed and Salem is forced to confront its sordid past.

Customer Reviews

Second book in The Lace Reader series!

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry is the second book The Lace Reader series. John Rafferty is the police chief for the town of Salem, Massachusetts. It is Halloween which is a busy time in Salem and a big problem just landed in his lap. Rose Wheelan has been arrested for the murder of Billy Barnes. Billy along with his pals, James and Monk were tormenting Rose (Billy sliced her check with a knife). Billy’s great-aunt, Helen Barnes wants justice. Helen along with many others in Salem, feel Rose is a nuisance and a murderess. They blame Rose for the murder of three women in 1989. It is Salem’s famous cold case known as The Goddess Murders. Twenty-five years ago, Rose was a respected scholar in the community. On November 1, 1989 Rose and a little girl were the only survivors of a brutal slaying on Proctor’s Ledge. Rose has never been the same since then. She now wanders the city talking to trees and looking for the original hanging tree. John decides to start looking into the cold case and see if he can solve it. He wants to prove Rose’s innocence. Callie Cahill has been living in Northampton and working as a music therapist. When she reads about Rose in the paper, she is shocked. The nuns had told her that Rose was dead. Callie is the other survivor of that fateful night. Callie wants to help Rose, and she would love to finally get answers on what happened to her mother. Callie’s mother, Olivia was one of the victims along with her two friends, Cheryl Cassella and Susan Symms. It turns out that each person who was present that night was related to a “witch” executed in 1692. Callie, thanks to her visions, will be able to assist John with the investigation. What were the women doing on Proctor’s Ledge that Halloween night? Is the real killer a human, a witch, or something far more sinister?

The Fifth Petal sounds like a great paranormal mystery novel. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the final product. There is some nice writing and excellent research, but the novels pace is sluggish (actually, I think slugs move faster). I was never drawn into the story (it did not engage me in any way). The author did not stick with the main storyline. There are a couple of side stories that were unnecessary. The main one being Callie and her music therapy. I ended up skipping through these sections. Brunonia Barry is also a descriptive writer which leads to many unnecessary details. I give The Fifth Petal 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). I believe the book needs major editing. The Fifth Petal could be a good book with a little work. I wish the author had run with the supernatural elements (embraced it). It would have made for a more entertaining story. Many readers will be able to figure out the identity of the culprit. Only a couple of clues are needed to work out this mystery (if you can manage to get that far into the book). I was tempted many times to toss The Fifth Petal aside, but I did persevere to the end (which I discovered to be a letdown). Of course, The Fifth Petal has the requisite romance which just slows down the narrative even more (Thanksgiving seemed to go on for days). I found some information to be replicated especially about the 1989 murder (and I forget how many times we are told that John Rafferty is the chief of police). While this is the second book in The Lace Reader series, it can be read alone. The author updates the readers on what occurred in The Lace Reader.

The Fifth Petal
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jan 24, 2017
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 464 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings