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KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Out Of Circulation by Miranda James

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Sandra Murphy

Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review.

Charlie Harris is an older Southern gentleman, emphasis on gentleman. He’s a widower, landlord to two boarders in his home, father to Laura and Sean, and companion to Diesel, a Maine Coon cat of extraordinary size (thirty-six pounds is big even for a Maine Coon!).

Charlie works as a cataloger at the nearby college. Diesel goes to work with him each day and is welcome almost everywhere in town (the woman in the records office is allergic to cats). Charlie’s also a member of the Friends of the Athena Public Library board and that’s where the trouble lies. Vera Cassity and the Ducote sisters have a long standing feud about who will host the annual gala. Vera is nasty and vindictive when she doesn’t get her way—and even when she does. The Ducotes are gracious Southern ladies who get their revenge in a much more genteel fashion.

Azalea works for Charlie—she came with the house, when he inherited from Aunt Dottie. She has a big hatred for Vera, but then who doesn’t?

Image source: Penguin Publishing

It’s no surprise when Vera ends up dead at the gala, ironically on the servant’s staircase in spite of her airs of being a class above. Worse, she’s dressed as Scarlett O’Hara and her hoop skirt, the direction of the body and the narrow space, leave her exposed, crinolines and all.

Well, the Ducote sisters have to be suspect even though it’s unlikely any murder they might commit would ever be in their own home, Azalea was found with the body but the positioning is wrong, Vera’s philandering husband is front and center and Sissy, his rumored long-time girlfriend is in the mix as well. Motives about but the distant past might just turn out to be more important than current events.

Charlie and Diesel investigate at the urging of the Ducote sisters and Azalea’s daughter, police officer Kanesha. She’s out of the loop on this case since her mother was involved. The more investigating Charlie does, the more motives come to light.

Charlie is truly a gentle man and a great character. He’s surrounded by family and friends, all of whom the reader would like to meet in person, Diesel especially. Good plotting, a few twists and attention to detail make this a great read.

Previous books in the series are:

Murder Past Due
Classified as Murder
File M for Murder

To enter to win a copy of Out Of Circulation, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Circulation”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 2, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Use this link to purchase Out Of Circulation & you help support an indie bookstore & KRL:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster.

Friday, February 15, 2013

All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer Fleming

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Gloria Feit

Details on how to win a copy of All Mortal Flesh at the end of this review.

All Mortal Flesh, the fifth in the Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne series, finds Clare, the parish priest in the small Adirondack, upstate NY town of Millers Kill, and Russ, the local police chief and married man she loves, having just wrenchingly ended their relationship. The following day, an even more devastating event occurs: Russ is told that his wife, from whom he had recently separated when he told her of his love for Clare, has been brutally murdered.

Loving Clare, yet still loving his wife, matters are only compounded when both Clare and Russ are considered prime suspects, not only by the police but by the local gossip-loving town residents.

Image source: Minotaur

With her usual adroit skill, Ms. Spencer-Fleming has written another wonderful tale of these very human protagonists in this book, available for the very first time in a trade paperback edition.

The sense of place is vivid, and the wintry weather graphically evoked. There is a slam-bang ending with a final unexpected and stunning turn as this suspense-filled tale concludes. An excellent and fast-paced read, and one that is highly recommended.

To enter to win a copy of All Mortal Flesh, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Mortal”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 23, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Ted & Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, New York, a few miles outside of New York City. For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney & former stock analyst, publicist & writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications. Having always been avid mystery readers & since they're now retired, they're able to indulge their passion. Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK & US.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Dog In The Dark by Barb & J.C. Hendee

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Terrance McArthur

The Dog in the Dark: a novel of the Noble Dead is the 11th in the series by Barb & J. C. Hendee, or the second book in the third series, depending on how you want to look at it. Sounds confusing? Just wait.

The series (or series-es) has a rabid following, as it combines so many genres: sword-and-sorcery, pre-techno-thriller, High Elven fantasy, vampires, and conspiracy adventure. Magiere has a slight problem in keeping her vampire half in check; get her upset, and the fangs spring out, accompanied by bloodlust. Her part-elven husband Leesil (or Léshil, or a very long mish-mosh of letters) stands by her, along with the Fay-in-wolf’s-clothing they call Chap. Tagging along, dragged along, or just there is the mostly-elven girl everyone calls Leânalhâm (the authors frequently refer to her as “the girl everyone calls Leânalhâm”), and Brot’ân’duivé (mercifully, he is usually referred to as Brot’ân)—which translates as “Dog in the Dark”—an elven assassin with his own agenda.

Image source: Roc

They are in search of the next in a series of “orbs” that were weapons for an Ancient Enemy who might be returning for them. They don’t find any of them in this book, but we hear all about the ones they already found...boy, do we ever.

The book is told from many points of view, including the other elven assassins after Magiere, Leesil, and (for various reasons) Brot’ân. This creates a degree of mental whiplash as the story bounces from teller to teller. On top of that, most of the book is told in flashback, when one character, triggered by an event, thinks about something that had happened in the past, or another character peers into the mind of another who is remembering an event…or when they take turns telling parts of a story.

Some people will read this book and say, “What masterful control of the use of point of view!” Others will say, “If they had just told the story without all the sidebars, they could have cut a 450-page book down to 200.” Someone might even say, “Who’s on First? I Don’t Know, he’s on third, and I don’t give a Darn!”

The Dog in the Dark
is inventive, exciting, and as well-choreographed as a martial arts film; you can practically see the footwork. Magiere and her friends (and her enemies) make good company and good reading.

To enter to win a copy of The Dog In The Dark, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dog”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 16, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Use this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Friendly Game Of Murder by J.J. Murphy

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Cynthia Chow

Check out details on how to enter to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

It is New Year's Eve in 1920s New York City and Dorothy Parker is hoping for an improper end of the year kiss in the Algonquin Hotel. Unfortunately, a guest doctor has just diagnosed a case of smallpox that forces a quarantine over the entire hotel, trapping the guests in for the holiday. So, when the immensely irritating New York Times drama critic, Alexander Woolcott, suggests that they play a game of Murder, it's a proposal that normally Dorothy would run from leaving a trail of dust in her wake. But sheer boredom and the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle just happens to be another guest gives her second thoughts.

Image source: Penguin

To keep the spirit of the holiday going, Douglas Fairbanks and his wife, Mary Pickford, host a party in the penthouse and invite the entire hotel, which, unfortunately for most, happens to include ingénue Broadway actress Bibi Bibelot. She makes her presence unforgettable with a naked champagne bath and manages to annoy a good percentage of the other guests. So, when the poor woman is discovered murdered in an all-too-real game of murder and the police are unable to enter the hotel due to the quarantine, Dorothy enlists the most famous author of their times in her investigation and if she manages to bring down the arrogant Woolcott, all the better.

Murphy takes on the daunting task in this series at recreating the renowned dialogue and Bon mots of the eminently quotable Dorothy Parker and her fellow members of the Algonquin Table. While Murphy takes some liberties with Dorothy's attraction to the married writer Robert Bentley, the adventures and humor of the characters will have readers believing that they are living amongst the famous icons of 1920s New York City. The byplay between Dorothy and Bentley and a set-up that essentially consists of a locked-room mystery combined with a French farce of missed connections, nuns, and a confused attempt at mastering the switchboard, make for an incredibly engaging read that will have readers wishing that they were as quick-witted and sharp-tongued as Dorothy and her friends. Full of vivid details that mix the fictional with historical facts, this third Algonquin Table Mystery continues to delight, educate, and entertain fans of historical mysteries.

To enter to win a copy of A Friendly Game Of Murder, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Game”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 9, 2013. 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).