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Friday, October 24, 2014

The Corpse with the Platinum Hair: A Cait Morgan Mystery By Cathy Ace

by Cynthia Chow

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

It’s Miss Shirley in the casino dining room with a skewer, in this locked-room mystery that has the suspects locked in with a murderer who seems to be systematically reducing their numbers before they can either identify the culprit or manage their release.

Psychologist and University of Vancouver Professor Cait Morgan had hoped to celebrate the birthday of her boyfriend Bud Anderson, a retired Vancouver Police Department homicide detective and RCMP officer, with an elaborate dinner at the Las Vegas Tsar! Casino and Hotel. A sudden security system alarm abruptly ends that though, knocking out the lights and securing all of the doors. When the emergency lights are restored, the diners are shocked to discover the body of the casino owner and Marilyn Monroe-esque Miss Shirley, stabbed through her seat with a saber just minutes after a deadline that had her inheriting her late husband’s Tsar! majority ownership.


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When the legal counsel Julie Pool fails to enter the proper security codes, all of the diners are locked into the dining room for twelve hours until the automatic reset, a time during which they could spend either hiding out from one another in anxiety or conducting a covert investigation into which of the thirteen – well, now twelve – was motivated to commit such a brazen act of murder. Without an outside phone line or Wi-Fi, tensions mount among the increasingly tense prisoners, whose number includes the overridden business partner, Miss Shirley’s stepson and probable heir, an operatic Diva, several attorneys, and a promising chef whose connection to Bud was the reason for his and Cait’s presence. The suspects are many, but their is growing alarmingly fewer fast as the mortality rate increases and the twelve hour deadline becomes entirely too literal.



Image source: Cathy Ace

In this fourth mystery of the series featuring victim profiler Cait Morgan, she continues to use her unique skills that connect a victim’s life to his or her eventual death. It’s an intriguing premise, especially considering how the criminologist turned victimologist was herself once profiled as a murderer and so implicated by British tabloids that she fled for British Columbia. In the classic tradition of locked-room mysteries, Cait and Bud question each of the guests and slowly everyone’s secrets are revealed. The author plays entirely fair with the clues and readers will enjoy unraveling the mysteries alongside this mature and savvy couple. Although they are locked in without power or resources, having a chef on hand along with the leftover meals means that foodie Cait will have ample opportunity to revel in and provide detailed descriptions. Traditionalists will enjoy this mystery that plays with classic mystery conventions while also celebrating everything that makes Las Vegas so unique.

To enter to win a copy of The Corpse with the Platinum Hair, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Hair,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 1, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


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, October 17, 2014

Finding Sky By Susan O’Brien

by Cynthia Chow

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

When a pregnant 18 year-old with a history of running away goes missing, not even her parents are concerned enough to involve the police. Although Beth agreed to give her baby up for adoption, her parents were strongly against it. No one seems surprised the girl may have changed her mind and fled.

Kenna hoped to adopt Beth’s child and is frantic to find the girl. She calls best friend Nicki Valentine for help. A stay-at-home mother of two wouldn’t seem to be the best choice, but considering Nicki’s fascination with crime, her degree in forensic psychology and enrollment in a private investigation class, Nicki has the enthusiasm, if not the experience, of any professional. Fortunately, she has the supervision and advice of her instructor, Dean.


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Nicki learns that Marcus, Beth’s ex-boyfriend and likely father of her child, has gang ties. She’s in the middle of a gang shooting, has her car shot at and becomes embroiled in a battle over drugs and gang territory. One might question why she would continue to endanger herself and her family, but Kenna’s desperation to find Beth and the baby, keeps her going. With her mother as a reliable babysitter, Nicki uses her son’s Scholastic Scooby-doo binoculars to follow suspects as she sucks down juice boxes and animal cookies on stakeouts, and even squeezes in a preschool pizza party.

While a thirty-six year-old woman’s ability to blend in with a crowd of teens does strain the limits of believability, Nicki gets a pass with sunglasses and a questionable wardrobe, given the intoxication level of the partygoers. Her lack of judgment is more of a concern, as she risks breaking-and-entering into a home and takes her children on investigate outings.



Image source: Henery Press

It would be oversimplification to call this “Mom Lit,” yet this novel has one of the more realistic portrayals of juggling work with home life. Finding a reliable babysitter is just as important as researching the background of a gangbanger, although Nicki does find that carting around children works as camouflage when interrogating neighbors. Nicki’s support system provides assistance when experience fails. The too-perfect Dean (he rides a motorcycle and drives an Aston Martin, for heaven’s sake) offers his considerable skills as he distracts with his charm.

This debut mystery offers menace without violence, intrigue and a realistic depiction of a single parent struggling to find an identity outside of motherhood. The hint of romance and element of humor further ensures that this novel will attract a following of cozy-reading fans for the upcoming sequel, Sky High.

To enter to win a copy of Finding Sky, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Sky,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 25, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


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, October 10, 2014

Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek: A Samuel Craddock Mystery By Terry Shames

by Cynthia Chow

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

The economy has not just hit Jarrett Creek, Texas hard, it has completely decimated it. A bad water park investment bankrupted the county, with no funds to support even its tiny sheriff’s department. Deputies are resigning but the new mayor has a plan to reappoint Samuel Craddock Sheriff’s even though he retired and recovering from knee surgery. The mayor’s meeting doesn’t go as smoothly as expected. The murder of the loudest opponent of the reappointment pretty much assures Craddock will be back on the job. With a dollar-a-year salary Craddock’s priority will be to investigate Gary Dellmore’s death. He was a less than successful executive at the bank owned by his father. Dellmore’s good looks and Lothario tendencies toward female employees point suspicion to jilted girlfriends, a wife, and numerous angry husbands. His involvement in the shady investment that destroyed the town reveals an even wider circle of those with murderous motivations.


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Craddock feels the separation from his neighbors the moment he resumes office. Everybody has something to hide or feel guilty about. Poking sleeping dogs is part of his job so Craddock questions the very man who hired him; the mayor’s daughter may have been a little too friendly with her boss. Money and love are the usual motivations behind murder. There are a plethora of suspects as Craddock must investigate a wealthy land owner and his country-singing wife, the owner of Jarrett Creek’s bank, a seemingly cheerful widow, and more than one mistress.

Author Terry Shames captures the voice of the stoic, compassionate and canny Craddock. While he respects the power of gossip, he refrains from gossip himself in spite of nosy inquiries by friends and neighbors. Craddock finds this case hits him to the core. He resents men who take their wives for granted and cheat on them, as he mourns his late wife.



Image source: Seventh St.

This novel emphasizes love, marriage and the compromises people make in order to retain one, if not both. Craddock is feeling his age. Although his knee surgery was successful, he can’t help but be aware of fragility of his health.

This third in the series will appeal to fans of both Craig Johnson and C.J. Box. Readers will find themselves unable to put down this well-crafted mystery, full of sly dialogue and smart characters. This is one of my favorite new mystery series. I continue to look forward to novels that highlight the both the goodwill and darkness that inhabits a small Texas town.

To enter to win a copy of Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Broke,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 18, 2014. U.S. residents only.


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, October 3, 2014

Emerald By Garner Scott Odell

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review, along with a video interview with Garner.

What do you need in a suspense thriller?
• A man you can root for…or a woman…or a man and a woman (but if you have a man and a woman, you know that will cause complications).
• A man you can hate (well, it could be a woman) who has some force driving him to do things that are considered evil.
• A goal (world domination, a priceless treasure) that is so desired that people would die or kill for it. Alfred Hitchcock referred to it as the McGuffin, based on an old joke (the McGuffin was used to hunt lions in the Sahara Desert. Wait; there aren’t any lions in the Sahara. That’s the McGuffin!).


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In Emerald by Garner Scott Odell, David and Miriam are agents of Israel’s secretive Mossad. He can’t stand her, even though he knows she’s a better marksman than he is. She finds him cocky and undisciplined and he snores. When two characters grate on each other that much, you know what’s going to happen, right? Uh-huh.

David and Miriam are chasing Hans Huber, son of the bodyguard of Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi who was captured by Israeli agents. Hans’ father was killed (and Hans was injured) during the abduction, so he hates the Jews and loves everything his father, Eichmann, and Hitler stood for. He kills, and enjoys killing, marking his victims with the sign of the Nazi SS. He’s not a nice guy, but he is fascinating.



Image source: Garner Scott Odell

The goal Huber chases is a fabulous, hen’s- egg-sized emerald, a jewel that goes back to the time of the conquistadors. Huber’s family owned it for a while, and Hans believes it belongs to him by right, and he will do anything to make it his, even if…especially if it means murder. The inspiration for the book’s jewel was a real emerald that vanished from history around the 1930s.

Odell’s world travels as a cruise-ship chaplain are reflected in his sense of history and his careful use of details create a crystalline vision of the times and settings. The characters are colorful, from a tongue-less African to a half-Chinese mob employee, to a passel of international law enforcement officials who try to aid the Israelis in their work. The pace and tension keep growing higher. Who ever thought a high-class auction house would be a setting for a high-stakes thriller?

There are some proofreading problems, but this Emerald is a gem.

Video Interview with Garner Scott Odell:


To enter to win a copy of Emerald, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Emerald,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 11, 2014. U.S. residents only.


Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public's information needs.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Bad Wife By Jacqueline Seewald

by Sandra Murphy

The good news is Kim Reynolds is in love with police officer, Mike Garnder. He loves her too as do his two daughters. His ex-wife moved out of town and except for an occasional phone call, is out of the picture.

The bad news is, she comes back to see her girls, or so she says. Her acting career isn’t going anywhere for the moment so she thinks a bit of surgery will enhance things enough to get her jobs again. For that kind of surgery, you need money and she doesn’t have any. What she does have though, are her copies of the divorce papers—unsigned after all this time. It seems Mike signed his copies and never checked to see if she followed through.


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Kim refuses to see Mike while Evelyn is staying at the house, supposedly to be with their daughters. One girl is glad she’s back and maybe even hoping they’ll get back together. The other knows that won’t happen and SAYS that their mom will just up and leave again.

Mike is a teller of bad jokes. When he meets Kim at the grocery store, he tries one or two but they fall flat. It just hurts too much for Kim to see Mike and not be able to be with him. Frustrated, Mike says maybe he should just go home and shoot his wife so she’ll be out of the way once and for all. The poor stock boy who overhears him say it is bound to remember so when Evelyn is found dead, it’s a sure bet Mike will be a prime suspect.

He didn’t want Evelyn there, was betrayed by her continued refusal to sign the divorce papers, doesn’t like her influence on the girls and only wants to marry Kim. Any one of the reasons makes him a good bet for the killer.



Image source: Perfect Crime Books

Kim knows him though and is sure he’s innocent. In every scene it's apparent that Kim loves Mike and his kids, but is torn up because the divorce was never finalized.

Evelyn didn’t have any friends—she used people too often for that to happen. Mike isn’t allowed near the investigation since it’s his family so Kim tries to find out more about Evelyn herself. It’s hard to say if the murder happened because of old wrongs or current problems as Evelyn wasn’t above blackmailing those nearest and dearest to her or at least nearest and dearest to her bank account.

There are other suspects. Evelyn slept with husbands other than her own, a man followed her to town from Hollywood and basically, she was a mooch. If only Kim can narrow the prospects down to one…

The Drowning Pool and Truth Sleuth are two of the previous books in this series.

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, September 19, 2014

Murder In Mariposa By Sue McGinty

by Sandra Murphy

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

In her third Bella Kowalski Mystery, author Sue McGinty treads an area of the California Central Coast she knows well. Although she has changed the names of regional landmarks (to protect the innocent?), the cover art shows the distinctive features of Morro Rock. Familiar with local color and concerns, McGinty weaves them into the plot, including a controversial sewage system haunting the coastal community for years.

Bella is an ex-nun, her husband Mike is an ex-Chicago cop. Bella now works for the local paper as the obit editor and Mike has a septic service business. These seniors aren't beyond a romantic get-away, especially now that Bella's mother has moved in. Their favorite destination is the Mariposa Inn, but they discover it has fallen on hard times. Bella notes a strange recognition pass between the check-in clerk and her husband, but he denies knowing the man.


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When the clerk is found dead the next morning, Mike tells the police he doesn't know the man. Later, he confesses to Bella that the victim was a crooked cop he knew on the force. Then she spies him passing a red notebook to a woman. Ten days later he has packed his clothes and split. The cryptic note he leaves behind tells her not to contact law enforcement. Keeping her in the dark is his way of protecting her.

Does Bella follow his instructions? Nope. Instead, she allows her imagination to run wild. Was her husband kidnapped? Did he run off with the strange woman? And why is his notebook in the mansion of an elderly Detroit mobster?



Image source: Sue McGinty

Convinced the notebook holds clues to her husband's disappearance, this ex-nun is not above a little breaking and entering. She barely escapes getting apprehended. But Bella is not one to throw in the towel and continues in her pursuit of the truth.

Mixing humor with clues, murders and a ghost or two, McGinty opens her world and Bella's for our entertainment.

To enter to win a copy of Murder in Mariposa, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Mariposa,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 27, 2014. U.S. residents only.

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, September 12, 2014

Prescription for Murder By E. E. Smith

by Sandra Murphy

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

Lexie Smith, the private investigator aka Girl Gumshoe, is back. This time she’s vacationing in Majorca with the delectable Harry from Scotland Yard. It’s a romantic setting, blue water and sky, warm sun, and finally, time alone. When Harry proposes, Lexie says yes in spite of previous misgivings about the suitability of marriage in general and a trans-Atlantic marriage in particular. After all, her agency, Discreet Inquiries, is based in Sacramento, California. The plan is to be married immediately and worry about the rest later.

Even as Lexie gets dressed in her wedding finery, a telegram arrives that will change everything. It says come quick, Mother’s ill and is signed Mary. On the face of it, that makes sense. Unless you know that Lexie hasn’t spoken to her sister Mary in a year or so and their mother died three years ago.


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The wedding is off and so is Lexie–off to Sacramento, that is. Who sent the telegram and why? When Mary’s found, she denies all knowledge of the message. She’s quit school, isn’t paying the bills (like the electricity) and has put the family home up for sale.

It turns out the message was sent with the purpose to intrigue, by Lexie’s old friend, Nikki. It seems that Nikki was heard to threaten a US Congressman who conveniently (or maybe not) turns up dead within a few days. He’s been poisoned and Nikki’s fingerprints are at the scene.

The Congressman was a big backer of internment camps for the Japanese during the war. Nikki, being Japanese, was not. Is it enough of a motive for Nikki to kill him? There are other suspects–like the Irish Mob who had a great interest in how the Congressman voted. His wife loved him but knew of his affair. The cad spent most of his (their) money on his mistress and made no secret of it.



Image source: Phoenix International, Inc.

When a second death occurs, things just get more complicated. Mary, who could be mistaken for Lexie unless they are standing side by side, is kidnapped by the Mob as an encouragement for Lexie to do a job for them. It seems that Boyo, the Mob’s enforcer, has fallen in love with an Irish lass named Maureen. She has red hair, green eyes and pale skin, so could Lexie go to Belfast and bring her back to marry Boyo? With that tiny bit of information to go on, what could possibly go wrong? An awful lot.

With plane trips back and forth, the appearance of “Kit” Carson, FBI agent who thinks Lexie should be the white-picket-fence-and-lots-of-kids kind of girl instead of a Girl Gumshoe, Mary, the sister no one knew she had, Daisy the dog (ever so popular and a good tracker), Maureen, a dock workers strike and poor Harry, left at Scotland Yard as well as at the altar, it’s no wonder Lexie is rethinking her choices. What’s next for her? Readers can only hope for another book to tell all.

To enter to win an ebook copy of Prescription For Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Prescription,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 20, 2014. U.S. residents only.

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.