Malevolent Magic

After a difficult few months, Fred, Watson, Katie and the citizens of Estes Park, Colorado are ready to celebrate Christmas with an open house at the Cozy Corgi. All goes well until Andy Sweitzer, son of Glinda’s friend Connie, attends the party with his sisters and mother, behaving in such an arrogant manner that Fred eventually kicks him out. However, before she does, he gets into a verbal scuffle with Billy Hansen, son of Carl and Anna Hansen, who own Cabin and Hearth, the upscale home shop across the street, which results in Billy’s being tossed out as well.

All seems calm until Glinda opens the magic shop after Mark’s monthly game night and finds Andy dead in a pool of his own blood, badly beaten and bashed in the head with one of Alakazam’s heavy and expensive snow globes … and Mark snoring on the sofa in his office, drenched in blood. When shaken awake, he admits he blacked out drinking and has no idea whether he killed his friend. His sister, the irascible police officer Susan Green, handcuffs Mark and escorts him to jail.

And to her eternal astonishment, Susan asks her to take on his case and prove his innocence. She’s still full of insults and nastiness, but she trusts Fred to find the truth, even if she doesn’t like her.

Meanwhile, Andy’s sister, Sheila, goes into labor on the mystery room’s antique sofa, ruining it when her water breaks. Mark’s friend Ricky, who earns his living conducting Bigfoot and Abominable Snowman tours, drunkenly defends his pal and attempts to seduce Fred mid-tour at Habanero’s before Susan appears with a breathalyzer, while Angus, owner of Knit Witts and the third member of the game group, has no recollection of the evening either, as he and the fourth member, Gerald Jackson, the least competent lawyer in Colorado, were intoxicated on the latter’s homemade kombucha, made with cannabis-infused tea.

As always, Fred uses the detective skills she learned from her father, as well as a bit of Harry Potter lore she shares with Mark, to search for the killer. Will she and Watson find the murderer in time to save Mark from a lifetime behind bars?

And just what will happen to the mystery room sofa?