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Kings River Lite:

KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
Kings River Lite regularly offers a "bonus" review or article, beyond the full issues that go up weekly over at KingsRiverLife.com.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Fleur de Lies: A Passport to Murder Mystery By Maddy Hunter

by Cynthia Chow

As owner of Destinations Travel Company with her new husband Etienne, Emily Miceli is charged with herding her geriatric tourists through various locations with a minimal loss of life or sanity. Her track record's been pretty abysmal on this though, as death seems to always follow. Accompanying a tour group of funeral planners does seem to tempt fate.


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With Etienne at home in Windsor City, Iowa, Emily is on her own with her troupe of septuagenarian, octogenarians, and nonagenarians. At least her Nana is along as they traverse through the World War II sites vital to both France's and America's history. Less helpful is the presence of Emily's ex-husband Jack Potter, now Jackie Thum, fully a lady and a representative of Mona Michelle, the cosmetics company whose sellers are as cutthroat as they are beautiful. Jackie may be experienced in cosmetics and fashion but she is an infant in the art of warfare of Mean Girls cliques.

When a death occurs and Jackie assumes that she was the target, Emily and her phone-addicted twittering herd of seniors are on the case as they visit historically sites between rushed runs on the buffet. Emily’s patience may be tested by her senior sleuths, but they always have her back and prove to be resourceful social media fiends.



Image source: Midnight Ink

The fun of this mystery comes in the twists and turns crafted by a talented author. Just when I thought I identified both murderer and motive, the rug was pulled out from under me with a surprising ending. The author a plays fair though in this humorous mystery filled with eccentric characters. The mystery remains logical as the beauty and history of France shines through. The strong writing and hilarity never overshadow the sentiment or realism of a powerful mystery. Fun and entertaining, Hunter fills this series with characters who may try Emily's patience and test her sanity but whose loyalty to their guide never waivers.


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, June 13, 2014

Reckless Disregard: A Parker Stern Novel By Robert Rotstein

by Cynthia Chow

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

Civil litigation hit the digital age when Hollywood mogul William “The Conqueror” Bishop files a lawsuit against the pseudonymous game designer “Poniard,” claiming that the video game Abduction! enacts a scenario libelously accusing Bishop of murdering a long-missing starlet.

Breaking into Judicial Alternative Dispute Solutions’ internal chat server, Poniard demands that Parker Stern represent him against Bishop’s lawsuit to shut down the game along with claims for punitive damages. Since the death of his mentor, the once dazzling litigator suffers from paralyzing panic attacks in the courtroom and now limits himself to arbitrations. However, Poniard refuses to take no for an answer and threatens to reveal Parker’s dark past as a child star if he refuses to take the case.


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Feeling cornered and still protective of the past he has attempted to put behind him, Parker takes the case that directly pits him against Lovely Diamond, one of Bishop’s attorneys and, as her name might suggest, a woman with her own scandalous past. That she happens to also have recently broken Parker’s heart makes the case even messier, especially when she is aligned with Parker’s nemesis Louis Frantz. Along with the anti-anxiety drugs that allow him to enter a courtroom, Parker engages the unorthodox aid of JADS case assistant Brenda Sica and paralegal/computer-hacker sexagenarian Phillip Paulson. Parker will need all of the help he can get, as he will face a less-than-helpful client with a cadre of dress-up followers, an opposing attorney who knows too many of his secrets, and a movie mogul whose power stems from his ruthlessness.



Image source: Seventh St. Books

Utilizing snappy dialogue, dexterous courtroom manipulations, and skillful interrogatories, Parker and his team are the underdogs who battle against the dark crimes of Hollywood, all the while continuing to entertain readers with their jaded humor and perseverance.

The sarcastic wit and humor that made the first Parker Stern novel, Corrupt Practices, so enjoyable continues to be present here and prevents the novel from descending into a dark tone despite the focus on victimization and powerlessness. Intersecting chapters narrated from the viewpoint of a young boy playing the Abduction! game elaborates on Parker’s own first person narration without distracting or disrupting the pace. Equally fascinating are Parker’s real childhood ties to an abusive cult and the role-playing, cult-like followers of Poniard and his games. Entertainment attorney Robert Rotstein once again incorporates his knowledge and experience into this very fun courtroom thriller that succeeds in making court depositions as riveting as the corruption and perversity of Hollywood.

To enter to win a copy of Reckless Disregard, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Reckless,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 21, 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, June 6, 2014

Death Runs Adrift: A Gray Whale Inn Mystery By Karen MacInerney

by Cynthia Chow

Some of the best decisions Natalie Barnes ever made were to quit her job in Parks and Recreation, leave Texas, and move to Maine to open the Gray Whale Inn as a bed and breakfast on Cranberry Island. Natalie is now engaged to handsome handyman and woodworker John, and is making plans for their wedding in Florida. Her future mother-in-law Catherine’s unexpected move into the carriage house worked out well, although Natalie is nervous about living together and moving into John's home. Now if only there weren't so many murders...


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A set of unidentified bones were discovered during the excavation of a swimming pool for Murray Selfridge, the local real estate mogul who’s intent on developing the island into a destination resort, closing the schools, and lowering his own tax burden. He is disliked by nearly everyone on the island; everyone except for Catherine, whom he is currently dating. Unfortunately, it's a set of more recent remains that disrupt Natalie's peace of mind. While picking blueberries, Natalie stumbles across a body in a boat. Early suspicion falls on the boyfriend of Natalie's artistic niece. Certain the hard-working lobsterman is innocent, Natalie questions the victim's family. She uncovers drug use on the island, competitive lobstermen, and a surprising connection between the island and prohibition. It's a balancing act between hosting guests, preparing meals and planning her upcoming nuptials. Wedding stress always lies in the back of Natalie's mind, especially when a disaster completely upsets plans for a small, intimate ceremony.



Image source: Midnight Ink

In this sixth Gray Whale Inn Mystery descriptions of absolutely delectable foods are seamlessly incorporated into the story, enhancing the novel without distracting from the plot. Recipes are included at the end, but the details of Natalie's preparations are enough to satisfy the most dedicated of foodies. Natalie's good humor, loyalty to her friends, and relentless pursuit of the truth continue to keep this a very strong series that remains fresh and allows for growth in the characters; all the while revealing the darkness that continues to intrude on their beautiful island.


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).