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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).


  1. Another triumph! Steve Hockensmith is the most under-appreciated living writer. Full stop.

  2. I love the review & would love to win a signed copy of Fool Me Once by Steve Hockensmith. I identify with Cynthia Chow as I too am a librarian, but I'm a children's librarian in rural NW MS. Thanks for the chance.

  3. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher