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Vampires and Villains (Magical Mystery Book Club, #2) by Elizabeth Pantley 

It’s time for another meeting of the Magical Mystery Book Club! 

After the first meeting of the Magical Mystery Book Club, the group was one member down. To remedy the problem, Judge Thornberry refers Maximilian Bettencourt III to fill the empty spot. Million, as he is known, is a former bookstore owner and came to the court’s attention for burning down his neighbor’s backyard garden shed. The group is somewhat leery of the newly proposed club member, what with their creative imaginations on overdrive. Yet, at the appointed time, the 82-year-old arsonist shows up on the doorstep of the Snapdragon Inn, potluck dish in hand, and they are all ready to go! 

This time the group has the idea that it would be great to solve a mystery on a cruise ship, and after a search of the stacks in the magical basement library, a cozy with a Hawaiian setting is selected. Once on board the boat, when no one finds Frank the Siamese cat’s ability to talk alarming, they realize they have landed in a paranormal cozy mystery book. When a sad sack ship photographer is found dead in the casino with two small puncture wounds in his neck and drained of blood, the assignment is clear: the group is looking for a killer vampire! 

Vampires and Villains is another fun and fanciful entry in the Magical Mystery Book Club series by Elizabeth Pantley. All but one of the group from the previous book have returned and are joined by the wonderfully quirky Maximilian “Million” Bettencourt III. He is the perfect addition to the club and something of a nemesis to the feisty Zell. I loved how the group returns after a month apart but has made great strides toward becoming a “family.” Forrest, in particular, is becoming a more solid member of the club and brings teenage energy and attitude, current pop cultural knowledge, and solid computer and social media skills to the table. 

The story is set on board a luxury cruise ship and the Hawaiian Islands when the group participates in excursions, and I loved how the Snapdragon Inn magically tagged along. The descriptions of the ship, activities, and trips ashore are vivid and put me on location with the characters. And even with a murder on board, it also put me in the mood to book my own cruise! 

The investigation was so entertaining that I read this book in one sitting. With nine (counting Frank!) sleuths on the job, the group can check out a lot of leads in a short amount of time, which is a good thing because there are beaucoup suspects. Starting out, there are almost 5,000 passengers and crew on board. However, after learning the manner of death, that is whittled down to the number of vampires on the ship. The story has twists and turns in it and I didn’t suspect the individual revealed as the murderer at all. I liked that each character regularly gets moments to contribute to the interaction and case. 

With a magical library theme, a fun group of recurring characters, including a snarky, talking cat, and vampires, I recommend VAMPIRES AND VILLAINS to cozy mystery readers who enjoy paranormal elements in their stories. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.