Meredith Blevins. The Hummingbird Wizard (2003) 400 pp.
Annie Szabo has done her best keeping her life on track after the sudden death of her husband. She has also kept herself away from her late husband’s family, a strong-willed clan of Gypsies that swirl around her stubborn and forceful mother-in-law, Madame Mina. (Mina tells fortunes in Chinatown and operates a successful café on Haight St. and is seemingly irresistible to men.) When Annie’s oldest friend, Jerry, is found dead she is forced back into the family. Jerry had been married to her husband’s sister and had served as the family lawyer. Suspecting that Jerry has been murdered, Annie and Madame Mina join forces to find out what Jerry had been involved in that someone would kill him over. They are helped—and hindered—by a large and eccentric cast of characters, including a Gypsy PI, a SFPD detective who wants to solve this one last case before his retirement, Jerry’s circus performer ex-wife, Annie’s free-spirit daughter, and the Hummingbird Wizard, a mysterious young man (who also happens to be her husband’s half-brother) with mystical powers. The action alternates between various San Francisco locales and Annie’s home in rural Sonoma County.