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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, 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).