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Kings River Lite:

KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Dante’s Dilemma: A Mark Angelotti Novel By Lynne Raimondo

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

There are bad days, and then there are bad years. A selfish decision made by psychiatrist Mark Angelotti led to an unimaginable tragedy, and it cost him his marriage, the custody of his son, and nearly his sanity. Haunted, Mark fled his practice to become a clinical psychiatrist at a Chicago teaching hospital, but then a genetic disease suddenly rendered him blind. Although Mark has adjusted to his new life, the retirement of his friend and mentor leaves Mark with a new boss, one whom Mark openly scorns—and therefore finds himself relieved of his cases and assigned to the Cook County State Attorney as a consultant for a recent notorious murder.


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University of Chicago professor Gunther Westlake was stuffed into an artistic anatomical rendering of female genitalia, with his own rather glaringly absent. Although Westlake’s outspoken sexist and right-wing opinions had garnered him no shortage of enemies, it was his estranged wife Rachel Lazarus who immediately confessed. Claiming that the murder was the result of years of abuse, Rachel and her attorneys plan to use Battered Wife Syndrome as a defense. Although Mark disagrees with the use of BWS as a legitimate diagnosis, he supports that Rachel was definitely suffering from PSTD. Mark’s stand is completely undercut in court, though, when his testimony is discredited by evidence that casts suspicion on his ability to be unbiased.

Mark’s first instincts are to seclude himself from the fallout that results when Rachel is found guilty, but he can’t accept the burden on his conscience. In order to delve deeper into Westlake’s marriage and his life, Mark is forced into working with Rachel’s attorney. That Hallie Sanchez was his not-quite-girlfriend means that she’s technically not his ex, but that hasn’t kept her from being furious that he took a case against her. It will definitely be awkward, but for readers, it’s tremendous fun.



Image source: Seventh St. Books

This is one of the strongest psychiatrist mysteries written today; the author succeeds in making each topic fascinating—even the brief court scenes are riveting. Mark and his colleagues have the black humor common among first responders, as they all share the experiences of seeing humans at their very worst; an early scene of Mark bantering with an attractive neighbor who shares his acerbic wit is a true delight. Equally compelling are the details of Mark coping with everyday tasks, for while technology seems to have enabled him with an app for everything, simply having furniture rearranged renders him helpless. After having struggled to overcome his own abused past and horrific losses, a recent development should spur him on to taking a new, more promising path. This is a smartly plotted mystery that continues to feature a very likable, wisecracking hero, and he allows the author to entertain readers without shying away from darkest corners of the human mind.

To enter to win a signed copy of Dante’s Dilemma, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dante,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 8, 2015. U.S. & Canadian residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:



Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Infinity Bell by Devon Monk

by Mary Anne Barker

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Infinity Bell is the second book in a trilogy; the first novel, House Immortal, leads directly into the second, and the third looks like it will follow right after. I like the plot and the characters, as well as the heroine, Matilda. She was raised on a farm, and is maybe a little naïve, but she’s full of gumption and love for her family, including her brother Quinten. In the case of some of the characters, I would have liked a little more illumination, a sense of what drives them and where they want to go. I will say that until near the end of this story I hadn’t realized how far in the future it takes place.


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The world is one in which there was a time experiment done by one of Matilda and Quinten’s ancestors. His experiment killed hundreds of people, except for 13 people who are “stitched” together; that are called the Galvanized. They seem to be unkillable. They are heroes in this world and they have lived for about three hundred years.

But Quinten (who is a genius, like his ancestor) has figured out that time is going to mend itself in a couple of days, when all the Galvanized and thousands—maybe millions—more in the area will die. So they all have to get back to the original site of the experiment, the family farm. The problem? The farm is in Pennsylvania and most of the characters are in Hong Kong.



Image source: Roc

So now Matilda, Quinten, Abraham, and the Neds are racing to get back home, and they are being hunted by the Houses, with large bounties on their heads. Different head of houses want them for different things. One wants all but Quinten dead. Another wants control of the House that Quinton and Matilda run.

This is a very engaging world. I worry about the people and what’s going to happen to them. The weaving of characters and events has gotten even more intense from the first book. It’s a roller-coaster ride. I can’t wait for the next installment, Crucible Zero, in September!

To enter to win a signed copy of Infinity Bell, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Infinity,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 8, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore:



Mary Anne Barker works at the Reedley Library. She loves books, TV and movies.



Friday, July 17, 2015

The Case of the Dotty Dowager By Cathy Ace

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

The women of WISE Enquires Agency represent the four nations of the United Kingdom and they are as diverse as their countries of origin. The four ladies are Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English, and the agency came to be after they solved a serial killing together. Just shy of its one-year anniversary, the enquiry agency has been hired by Henry Devereaux Twyst, the eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth. The nebbish longtime bachelor tasks the agents with determining whether a body disappeared from the floor of Chellingworth Hall or whether (as he fears is more probable) his mother is going senile. The fact that Althea Twist was the only who saw the corpse would lend credence to her being a little off her rocker, if not for the bloody bobble hat inexplicitly left behind.


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The Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth is not someone who appreciates being condescended to, so she’s more than willing to have the WISE agents investigate both her home and the Welsh town of Powys. What Althea doesn’t like is the influx of tourists who traipse through during Open Season. Chellingworth Hall is as expensive to maintain as it is rich with history and social prestige, and it survives only thanks to the six months it’s open to the public. When a million-dollar theft of a unique collection is discovered, the question isn’t so much by whom, but when.



Image source: Severn

Although the agents of WISE are dissimilar as a result of their different nationalities, those very distinctions make them uniquely perfect for their roles within the agency. The maternal and very pregnant Welsh native Carol Hill provides computer assistance from their Sloane Street office and dispatches the agents according to their particular skillsets. Working-class Englishwoman Annie Parker chatterboxes her way into being underestimated, Scottish retired army nurse Mavis MacDonald confidently carries authority and knowledge, while young upper-class Irish Christine Wilson-Smythe displays both diplomacy and social connections. Althea is herself a delightful character with a fondness for Monty Python and a distaste for pretension.

Author Cathy Ace has crafted a very fun and modern blend of mystery and Downtown Abbey, and the women of WISE prove to be funny, original, and always engaging. This is a very entertaining mystery that revels in the conflicts between classes and cultures within the United Kingdom, all while highlighting four very capable inquiry agents.

To enter to win a signed copy of The Case of the Dotty Dowager, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dowager,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 25, 2015. U.S. & Canadian residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:



Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).



Friday, July 10, 2015

Murder on the Bucket List By Elizabeth Perona

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

In one fell swoop, the ladies of the Summer Ridge Bridge Club manage to cross off three items from their respective bucket lists. What started with Joy McQueen’s #10 (“go skinny dipping”), led to her #6 (“be on the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper”), and would bring them to Charlotte Reinhardt’s #1 (“solve a murder mystery”). Joy, Charlotte, Alice Jeffords, and Mary Ruth McNamara strategically planned their late-night pool dip to avoid exposing their senior bodies to the public, but they hadn’t counted on literally sniffing out the body of Friedrich Guttmann decomposing in Alice’s pool shed.


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The famous–for the Brownsburg suburb of Indianapolis, anyway—car mechanic’s murder puts the spotlight on the ladies as it makes Alice’s home a local tourist attraction booking them all a stint on Good Morning America and making them an internet sensation. Unfortunately, Alice’s husband Larry may have a connection to the dead man, and he’s become as appealing a suspect to the police as they are all becoming undesirables to their homeowner’s association.

The charming hook of this début series is the “Sixty List” of sixty bucket-list items the ladies created when Alice first turned sixty. In the twelve years since, they’ve made slow progress on the list of goals to be achieved before they die, but it looks as though this murder may succeed in ticking off a good number of them!



Image source: Midnight Ink

Mary Alice uses the investigation to promote her catering business, Joy attempts to make the most of the media attention to become either famous or a television journalist, and mystery-fanatic Charlotte finally has the chance to complete a murder investigation. While the antics of the women occasionally verge on the absurd, their friendships realistically reflect their twenty-five-years’ bond.

The unexpected, but completely fascinating, world of Indianapolis midget car racing is explored and highlighted with entertaining results. Without ever becoming too over the top or overly saccharine, this intriguing mystery celebrates fun and realistic characters with loads of humor, wit, and compassion.

To enter to win a copy of Murder on the Bucket List, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Bucket,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 18, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & to indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:




Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Death at Gills Rock by Patricia Skalka

by Sandra Murphy

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Dave Cubiak did such a good job solving the last murder that he’s now the official sheriff … not that there’s a lot of crime in town. That means, he’s got time to devote to Butch, the pregnant dog he took in, and her subsequent puppies. He’s kind of seeing Natalie the veterinarian, too, and not just for free consults about the dogs. Of course, there’s Cate, but she’s gone and no one knows when—or if—she’s coming back. Mostly it’s the death of Dave’s wife and child that keeps him from a new relationship.


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The town is coming up on a celebration to honor three local war heroes. They’re all successful businessmen, married, and living large. Their weekly poker games, hunting and fishing trips and hikes are legendary.

The men receive an advance copy of the newspaper about their war exploits and decide to celebrate. The poker games are held in a cabin so as to not disturb anyone else with the drinking, smoking, and laughing that goes on. It’s a shock when all three are found dead the following morning. It looks like carbon monoxide poisoning, but the Big Guy was a stickler for checking for clogged vents, so maybe not.

It doesn’t seem like anyone had a grudge—not to mention means, motive, or opportunity to kill them. Still, the situation doesn’t sit right with Dave. The more he looks into the past, the more he finds that things are not always what they seem.



Image source: University of Wisconsin Press

Another death occurs on the day of their funeral. This time it’s a clear case of murder: a man is shot by his wife who admits to doing the deed for “reasons of her own.” Does this help Dave’s investigation, or just make it harder?

Once Dave gets past the veneer of polite society, he discovers secret after secret, all with far-reaching consequences that blow the suspect pool wide open. It’s up to Dave to wade through the clues and red herrings to find the truth, if there’s any truth to be found.

As a nice contrast in mood, Bathard and Sonia are getting married. He’s Dave’s good friend, an older man who found happiness after the death of his first wife. Dave’s not sure how he can do that. Barhard’s not, either, and says he and Sonia will probably still be debating the wisdom of their marriage as they walk toward the minister. Still, it’s a great example for Dave, showing there’s life after the death of a loved one.

Skalka’s books are so rich in detail about the area that Door County becomes a character without intruding on the rest of the story. Butch and the puppies are too cute for words—how will Dave be able to find homes for the pups? I like watching Dave move closer to life again. He’s past the don’t-care-if-I-live-or-die stage of grief and starting to ease his way back to living. This was a great mystery, full of twists and turns, real clues and false leads, an unusual but satisfying ending—and, all the way, full of heart.

I can’t wait for Book Three. Death Stalks Door County was the first and was reviewed for KRL.

To enter to win a copy of Death at Gills Rock, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Gills,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 11, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:


Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including Bananas Foster.




Friday, June 26, 2015

Violent Departures by F.M. Meredith

by Diana Hockley

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Marilyn Meredith’s (aka F.M. Meredith) novels are always good value and this one didn’t disappoint. A teenager disappears in the blink of an eye from her car in her grandmother’s driveway. The search is started immediately, because this girl wouldn’t just “run off” the way so many police departments appear to like writing off missing teen girls. Besides, the engine of her car is still running and all her things are still on the front seat, including her cell phone!


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Fortunately, a car not normally seen in the neighborhood is observed speeding off, giving the detectives the first clue. Classmates and the girl’s boyfriend are questioned and investigated.



Image source: Oak Tree Press

The leading character, Detective Milligan, is a likable person who, having moved with his wife into a new house, has to suspend disbelief and accept a ghost! Along with his work partner, Detective Felix Zachary, Milligan finds his attention required not only in the urgent inquiry into the disappearance of Veronica Randall, but other cases as well.

The feature of this novel is the solid, in-depth, and interesting police work, the believable characterizations, and the terrific twist at the end. I certainly would never have guessed “whodunit”!

This is another goodie in the stable of Marilyn Meredith, which is well worth seeking out and purchasing!

To enter to win a copy of Violent Departures, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Violent,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 4, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


Diana Hockley is an Australian mystery author who lives in a southeast Queensland country town. She is the devoted slave of five ratties & usually finds an excuse to mention them in her writing, including her recent novel, The Naked Room. Since retiring from running a traveling mouse circus for 10 years, she is now the mouse judge for the Queensland Rat & Mouse Club shows. To learn more, check out her website

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cantua Crossing By Mary Martin Benton

by Marilyn Meredith

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

The story opens in 1871 with rancher Harry Caldwell greeting a rider coming onto his property. Tolbert Hughes brings the message that another stage has been robbed by the Vasquez gang. Tolbert’s Aunt Cora Belle was on the stage, but is now missing. Caldwell and Cora Belle have a bit of romantic history, and he sets out to find her.


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Set in California’s Central Valley, most particularly in and around Visalia, Cantua Crossing is an intriguing adventure loaded with little known historical tidbits. Yes, there is a mystery to unravel as Caldwell tries to find out where and why Cora Belle has disappeared. There is also the matter of some missing money and who the rightful owner is.



Image source: Mary Martin Benton

As Caldwell makes his way on horseback to locate the woman, he finds the Vasquez gang hideout, is imprisoned, falls for a beautiful senorita, hunted down by the bandidos, and is in a gunfight.

All is not as it seems, many obstacles are put in his way, but nothing deters Caldwell from his mission.

To enter to win a copy of Cantua Crossing, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Crossing,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 27, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


Marilyn Meredith is a Springville, CA mystery author of the Tempe Crabtree series and writing as F. M. Meredith, the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Be sure to visit her website; fictionforyou.com