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KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Death of a Bride and Groom: A Honeymoon Falls Mystery By Allan J. Emerson

by Cynthia Chow

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

The closure of Winslow’s shingle mill would have doomed the tiny Canadian town—were it not for the ingenious inspiration to rebrand itself as Honeymoon Falls. The self-declared “Romantic Capital of the World” hosts a series of themed events that begins with Parade Day and over-the-top floats. When one of these makes an ill-advised detour onto the freeway, damaged semis and rear-ended police car are the least of the problems: strapped to the float like morbid cake toppers are the bodies of Iris Morland and Connor Tarlech, posed ironically in wedding attire.


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The list of those who didn’t have reasons for wanting the couple dead is shorter than the suspect list: Iris Morland was much-despised for her affairs with other women’s husbands, while Connor’s bankruptcy was the reason for the mill’s closure.

The end of his own marriage was the reason police chief William Halsey retreated from Vancouver to the town of his youth—though attempting to mediate between his two battling deputies is probably not giving him the peace he’d imagined. Neither is this new murder investigation that has him questioning powerful and wealthy residents, dodging headline-hungry news reporters, and corralling two rookie officers who lack experience—but not attitude. Alternating chapters reveal the viewpoints of various characters, and it is through these all-too-brief moments that readers can glimpse their complicated and fascinating personalities.



Image source: Five Star Gale

Although the concept of a series based in a town devoted to weddings would seem to relegate it to cozy status, this feels far more like a small-town police procedural. Fans of Craig Johnson and Bill Crider will find themselves at home with this debut series that has the police chief attempting to guide his own staff while navigating the politics of an affluent, tourist-driven town. As Halsey confronts both wealthy visitors and working-class residents, he learns one thing; they are all liars. This is an immensely fun novel inundated with witty dialogue, and by its conclusion readers will be ready to book their next visit to Honeymoon Falls.

To enter to win a copy of Death of a Bride and Groom (reader’s choice of Hardcover or Kindle version in the U.S. or Canada. Kindle version only in other countries), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Bride,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 5, 2015. 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, August 21, 2015

The Black Band By Albert vande Steeg

by Marilyn Meredith

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

The black band of the title refers to the black strip of velvet placed over the peace officer’s badge to symbolize the grief suffered because of the death of a fallen officer.
The book begins with the tribute of the funeral from the procession of the many public safety vehicles to the sound of bagpipes, but reflects much more than how the death of a fellow police officer is mourned. The reader is given the opportunity to experience many aspects of a cop’s life, from what happens on the job, sharing stories in a bar and the anxiety felt by officers’ wives and children.

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The author writes from experience and in an appealing and compelling manner. Each vignette is realistic, some with a touch of humor, others will make you wonder, but the reader will receive insight into what it’s like day-to-day – or on the night shift – for those unsung heroes who are protecting our lives and property.



Image source: Oak Tree

This is an excellently written book, and one that should be read by everyone who wants to know what it’s like to be a peace officer.

Highly recommended.

To enter to win a copy of The Black Band, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Band,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 29, 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

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fool Me Once: A Tarot Mystery By Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco

by Cynthia Chow

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

Raised by career con artists, Alanis McLachlan initially trekked to Berdache, Arizona, to retrieve her mother's cremains, finalize the estate, and close her mother’s latest scheme conning gullible marks. Instead, Alanis has decided to continue running the White Magic Five & Dime magic and tarot shop, using the same con skills she learned as a child; but she’s doing it to repay those her mother swindled. Alanis has already made inroads by framing an abusive husband and probably saving Marsha Riggs's life. Alanis may not be entirely reformed, but at least she was using her powers for good. Unfortunately, once Bill Riggs is freed, he resumes his behavior, and his inevitable death has the police concluding that it was the result of domestic violence.


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Alanis has never been one to put her trust in others, but she’s unable to believe that Marsha somehow managed to commit murder. Alanis feels some guilt about sending Bill to prison in the first place. So with the aid of her recently discovered half-sister Clarice, along with a muscular gym coach who might be willing to date Alanis if he wasn't terrified of her and an attractive con man, Alanis begins her quest to determine which of Bill Riggs’s shady activities finally got him killed.

In the previous entry in this series, Alanis teetered on whether to stay with her mother's shop or return to her very safe and very boring life as telemarketer Sophie Harper. While she finally decided to stay in Berdache and use her talents for good, Alanis is still acerbic, she is still very cynical about people's motives, and she still retains her stellar con skills.



Image source: Midnight Ink

What is different is that she now has a family that includes a teenaged half-sister, her Goth girlfriend, and the sincere psychic Josette Berg. Alanis has also become a reluctant student and follower of the Infinite Roads to Knowing guide to reading tarot cards, a self-published manual written by Barbra and Clarice that has proved to be unnervingly astute at predictions.

These hilarious interpretations are a highlight of the novel, as are the inner monologues that often have Alanis curtailing her illegal impulses. It’s the residual guilt of her mother’s actions that motivates Alanis into investigating, but at heart she’s compelled by her insecurities and the damage incurred by upbringing. In this second novel by Steven Hockensmith and Lisa Falco, the outstanding humor is less brittle but just as clever, making this a welcome follow-up to an original mystery of tarot and cons.

To enter to win a signed copy of Fool Me Once, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Fool,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 15, 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 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).