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The Cane, The Puzzle, and Magic by Vicky Burkholder is a Best Books '23 pick #urbanfantasy #uf #bestbooks #giveaway

Title: The Cane, The Puzzle, and Magic


Author: Vicky Burkholder


Genre: Urban Fantasy


Book Blurb:


It’s never easy to fight a friend. It’s even harder to kill one. Facing down an ancient evil, special agent Elizabeth St. John is outnumbered, outgunned, and outmatched. Local cop Kaeden Pike is the perfect choice to help her but letting him—or anyone—into her life and heart is the most difficult challenge she’s ever faced. Kaeden has never found the one person who fit him, until now. But how can he convince Liz that they make the perfect pair, especially when the end of the world is coming? Someone has to gather the forces of good to win this fight, but when Liz accepts the role, she finds that being alone isn't a choice she has to make. Almost losing Kaeden to the evil who already took the only other person she's ever trusted convinces her to open her heart and let him in...where he belongs.




Like other special agents for O.W.L.—Occult World Logistics—Elizabeth St. John took care of the nasties. Someone else took care of cleaning up.


When Liz got back to her car, she had a surprise waiting. An envelope stuck to her steering wheel. A plain, white, business size one with only her name, Elizabeth St. John, on the outside in fancy black calligraphy. In her locked car. Sitting in a sandy spot with no tracks around other than hers. Before she looked at the letter, she turned on the car and the AC, hoping to cool off a little. Then she took a bottle from a cooler in the back seat and took a long drink of water before she pulled a snack bar from her bag. Anything to avoid looking at the contents of that envelope.


Every time Liz got one of the letters, something horrible had either happened or was going to happen. Something that went beyond the norm. Something that belonged only to those realms where human logic had no hold. And she’d be the one to go out and take care of the problem. This wasn’t the first time she’d gotten one of the letters. Over the last ten years, Liz had received dozens of them. They always meant bad news. Always. But she’d never gotten one while already on a job.


“What the hell? Seriously? I just got done here!” Liz touched the envelope and reeled as the visions struck her. Earthquakes, volcanoes, cataclysmic storms, cities laid to waste, and millions dead. Liz swallowed hard against the sour taste rising in her throat. She had to take care of this and fast. If she didn’t, the darkness would grow. The coming evil would be unleashed against decent people who didn’t deserve the horror they would face. The letter dropped from her suddenly nerveless hands, and Liz leaned back against her seat, trying to breathe.


“Okay. Okay. I get it. Massive destruction on a cosmic level. Back off the visions unless you want to pay for cleaning my car.”


The sweat on her hands had little to do with the Florida temperature as Liz once again picked up the envelope. She took her knife out and slit the top open. Inside, she found a wad of money—ten one-hundred-dollar bills. A thousand dollars? Usually, they just deposited her pay in her account, which amused her. Angels—or whatever the bosses were—had bank accounts? The bosses never sent her real cash. Never. “I’d say thanks, but I’m certain I’m not going to like what’s coming.”


She opened the note that came with the cash. Buy new boots. Bannig is back.


Liz let the paper go as her body went numb. Her lungs refused to work, and the scar that ran across her ribs, a remnant from her last encounter with Bannig, burned. She’d barely survived that time and now the Powers-That-Be wanted her to face him again? Joshua Bannig. Her recruiter. Her trainer. Her friend. Taken over by a demon bent on generalized destruction. The last time Liz had looked him in the face, she’d hesitated, and he had almost killed her. Though Liz hadn’t finished him off, he’d disappeared, and she figured she’d hurt him enough he knew not to come back.


The string of choice vocabulary she uttered would have scorched even a demon’s ears.


“I’m supposed to be on vacation!” Liz bellowed at the roof of her car. The air conditioning blew the sheet of paper in front of her. “You promised me after I took care of the blob, I could have a vacation. A real one. With sun and sand and palm trees and cabana boys. This was not a vacation and facing Bannig is not my idea of a cabana boy or a good time.”


She banged her head against the steering wheel, trying to deny what she knew she’d have to do. Liz had seen enough evil in her life and bringing a little good to the world by fighting off beasts, like the blob, was the least she could do. She considered her job a way to help level the field. Evil made her life a living hell and she liked getting back at the bad guys. But Bannig?


Liz lifted her head and saw the paper that now floated above her. The knowledge of what might happen pounded into her brain. The psychic vibes coming from the sheet were stronger than before. Bannig was coming. And soon. She laid her head back down. “I really do not need this. You hear me? I don’t want to do this anymore. Can’t you find someone else? I’m sure you have other agents who can take care of him.”


The paper hung there, like a stern teacher frowning at a recalcitrant student. She’d seen the look often enough to recognize the expression even from a sheet of paper. Silent and uncompromising. The letter floated down to hang in front of her again, and she resisted the urge to stick her tongue out. Barely.


“Fine. All right. I’ll take care of him. Where do I need to go?” She looked inside the envelope for directions. Empty. There were always directions, but not this time. No notes, no map, nothing.


“You planning to tell me where I need to go?”


The paper didn’t move.


“All right. Fine. Be that way.” She pricked her thumb with her blade and smeared the drop of blood over the pad of her thumb then pressed the bloodied digit against the bottom of the paper. The bloody print disappeared, as always, and the paper dropped into her lap. Then she saw a new line of writing at the bottom of the page. A line that hadn’t been there before and consisted of only two words, but those two words turned her blood to ice.


Go home.


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):









What makes your featured book a must-read?


Winner of the 2022 Hooked on a Book Contest; Excellent world-building skills, imaginative, great characters.


Giveaway –


Enter to win a $45 Amazon gift card:



Open Internationally.


Runs December 18 – December 31, 2023.


Winner will be drawn on January 2, 2024.


Author Biography:


As her alter-ego, Vicky has multiple homes all over the universe. She looks human - for the most part - but when she starts writing about characters being able to move things or flicking fire from their fingertips, or changing the course of rivers, people tend to get a little freaked out. She found the one guy out there in the universe who loves her for who she is and they've been together forever and raised four wonderful (now) adults. Her career includes work as a technical writer/editor, a stringer for the local newspaper, and an editor and copy editor for various publishers. At various times in her life, she has been a teacher, a secretary, a short-order cook, a computer specialist, a DJ, and a librarian. When not editing or writing, she can be found in the kitchen creating gluten free goodies for her family.


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2 commentaires

23 déc. 2023

Congrats on ‘The Cane, The Puzzle, and Magic’ winning N.N. Light’s Best Books '23 pick for Urban Fantasy, Vicky! A beaut interview too. Meryl Brown Tobin, romantic suspense writer


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
22 déc. 2023

Thank you, Vicky, for sharing your book in our Best Books of '23 Bookish Event!

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