Sunday, 15 December 2019

Love Potions and Other Calamities by Charlie Laidlaw

Love Potions and Other Calamities by Charlie Laidlaw
First published in the UK by Ringwood Publishing as The Herbal Detective by Charles Grey in 2015. Republished under its new title by Headline Accent on the 7th November 2019.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A comic tale of love, mystery and unintended consequences ...

Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of local renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just. The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn't laid a lustful hand on her for months.

Rosie sets out to discover if her husband is having an affair, using deductive powers based solely on the careful preparation of plants and herbs. But as her well-laid plans entirely fall apart, the sighting of a large black cat sets off another chain of events.

Rosie now realises that a psychopath is on the loose and that she's been selected as his next victim.

Love Potions And Other Calamities is the second of the witchcraft-themed novels I've reviewed this week (L C Tyler's The Bleak Midwinter being the first). This humorous and frequently irreverent mystery is set in rural East Lothian where the landlady of the village pub puts her herbalist training to good (or bad, depending on your point of view) use in her attempts to stave off the psychological damage wrought by her impending fortieth birthday. I was lucky to not be too bothered by the passing of my fortieth, but I know many people who actively dreaded this milestone so I could empathise with Rosie's need to bolster her self esteem. I'm not sure I can so easily condone her actions however - even though I did giggle at their unfortunate aftermath. Love Potions is a wickedly funny novel with some truly cringeworthy scenes that I loved!

This is the third Charlie Laidlaw novel I've enjoyed. As always, his characters feel authentic, even while the scenarios in which they find themselves get more and more outlandish. I could easily picture Holy Cross village in all its tourism-grabbing glory. Perhaps the physiological explanations of Rosie's herbalism got a bit much over time, but I did like the inclusion of Albertus Magnus' ancient remedies (none of which should be tried at home!). The mystery aspect of Love Potions is often overshadowed by Rosie-caused mayhem (that poor vicar!) so I really wasn't up to speed when it came to that denouement, but I'd appreciated the entertaining journey to get there and would happily rejoin Rosie and the rest of the Holy Cross villagers should Laidlaw pen a sequel to Love Potions And Other Calamities.

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  1. Replies
    1. I couldn't resist including it as soon as I saw it!

  2. You seem to be doing well with the witchy related stuff at the moment!

    1. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy good witchy stories :-)