Fool Me Once
Review: After Alanis McLachlan inherited the White Magic Five and Dime in Berdache, Arizona from her mother, she decided to try to help out those customers who had been conned by returning whatever ill-gotten gains she could find and otherwise helping out however she can. One of those customers is Marsha Riggs, one of her mother's most loyal clients, who Alanis has finally convinced to leave her abusive husband. Unfortunately, said husband turns up dead and Marsha is the prime suspect, in Fool Me Once, the second mystery in this series by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco.
Alanis knows — or at least strongly believes — that Marsha had nothing to do with her husband's death. But Marsha is a wreck, and could, under the right circumstances, probably easily be convinced she did do it. Alanis learned a few tricks of the trade from her mother, and sets out to find out who might have had a reason to kill Bill Riggs, aside from Alanis herself, of course. She makes a list of potential suspects and then proceeds to investigate each. She figures that when all but one name has been crossed off her list, whoever remains must be the killer. If only it were that simple …
Fool Me Once is, on balance, a generally entertaining novel, but one without much substance. Fortunately, Alanis is such a delightful character to follow around; if she were any less engaging this would be a poor excuse for a mystery as the plot is really thinly developed and not particularly well executed. Most of the supporting cast seem almost interchangeable with each other, and it's hard to keep track of — or even care — who may be guilty of what as they all seem to be hiding something. Or involved with something illicit. Or just not playing by the rules. Alanis doesn't so much identify whodunit as much as she randomly beats the bushes hard and long enough that the culprit comes to her. Which is a perfectly acceptable strategy if not a particularly clever one. The book ends, however, on a most promising note. It would be a spoiler to say exactly what it is, but it definitely makes the next in this series already far more interesting.
Acknowledgment: Midnight Ink provided an eARC of Fool Me Once for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The White Magic Five & Dime
Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback), July 2014
ISBN-13: 9780738740225; ISBN-10: 0738740225
Location(s) referenced in Fool Me Once: Arizona
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Fool Me Once by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco — An Alanis McLachlan, Tarot Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2015
List Price: $14.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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