The White Magic Five & Dime
Review: Chicago telemarketer Alanis McLachlan gets a surprise call from an attorney in the small town of Berdache, Arizona informing her that she has inherited her mother's tarot shop. Alanis hadn't spoken to Athena Passalis — the name her mother was apparently using — in over 20 years, and didn't even know where she was, but curious about what life her mother had been living, she heads to Berdache to claim her inheritance, in The White Magic Five & Dime, the first mystery in this series by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco.
Athena had always been a con artist, even using Alanis in her scams. It was when Athena had wanted the then teenaged Alanis to hook a john at a convention that Alanis said she'd had enough and left. That the john was an undercover cop and Athena had been arrested made things easier. And now Athena is dead, murdered in her own tarot shop. Alanis is prepared to sell the shop, pocket the proceeds and head back to Chicago, but as the police have made no progress in arresting someone for the crime, Alanis thinks that maybe it takes a con to catch a crook, or something like that, and sets off to solve her mother's murder.
The White Magic Five & Dime is a very enjoyable mystery, one that hooks the reader (as it were) from the beginning and slowly but surely reels them in. Alanis's constant ranting about how awful her mother was wears thin very quickly, but fortunately that animus slowly diminishes and even turns to feelings of grudging respect by the end of the book. Otherwise, she's an interesting character, beyond cynical most of the time but open to doing the right thing when it matters. There are several lengthy and tangential side-stories about events in Alanis's early life that aren't really necessary to the story but they do help shape the character of the present day. The murder mystery itself is handled competently, though the resolution doesn't come as much of a surprise. It's the journey there that makes it worthwhile. At the end, Alanis agrees to stay in Berdache and run her mother's shop, a promise of more mysteries to come from these authors.
Acknowledgment: Midnight Ink provided an eARC of The White Magic Five & Dime for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
World's Greatest Sleuth!
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), January 2011
ISBN-13: 9780312379438; ISBN-10: 0312379439
Fool Me Once
Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback), August 2015
ISBN-13: 9780738742236; ISBN-10: 0738742236
Location(s) referenced in The White Magic Five & Dime: Arizona
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The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco — An Alanis McLachlan, Tarot Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 2014
List Price: $14.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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