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Friday, July 11, 2014

The White Magic Five & Dime By Steven Hockensmith and Lisa Falco

by Cynthia Chow

When loan modifications officer Alanis MacLachlan receives a call concerning her mother, the only question is does she need money or has she died? After not having communicated with her mother for the past twenty years, Alanis is relieved to know that it is the latter. Apparently, Athena Passalis, aka Barbra Harper, interrupted a burglary in her tarot shop and Alanis is now the sole heir of the White Magic Five and Dime New Age store in Berdache, Arizona.


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Alanis, as Sophie Harper, was raised in casinos and trained by her con artist mother to view everyone as either a con or as a mark whose emotions were a weakness to be exploited. As a result, the news that Alanis has also inherited Clarice Stewart, a seventeen year-old tenant and store clerk, is neither welcome nor a sentimental souvenir of her mother’s life. Further bad news arrives in the form of Josh Logan, a Berdache detective who has his suspicions about Alanis's legal intentions as well as her possible involvement in the murder. While she doesn't have any fuzzy memories or good feelings towards her mother, Alanis does feel that she owes her mother justice.

Studying the hilarious and rather informative how-to tarot book, Infinite Roads to Knowing by Miss Chance, Alanis takes over her mother's clients in the hopes of determining who may have been unhappy enough with her predictions to want her dead. As she investigates, Alanis discovers while Athena always had her eyes on the prize, she also brought a surprising amount of peace to her clients.



Image source: Midnight Ink

The author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the Holmes on the Range series places his trademark of twisted humor, wordplay banter, and acerbic wit on this absolutely delightful mystery. Alanis protects herself with a shield of whip-smart sarcastic wit and a brash, jaded attitude. The narrative reveals the true tragedy of Alanis's past, from her lonely early training in the art of the con to the fate of her surrogate father. The authors seamlessly blend this with humor, very human characters, and an intricate plot to ensure readers will be thoroughly entertained. This is a mystery like no other, an ending no one can predict, and a heroine who is as savvy, funny, and strong as she is vulnerable.


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).

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