TOUR: The White Magic Five and Dime

July 9, 2014 Steve Hockensmith, Tarot Mystery 30

I’m excited to be part of the tour for Steve Hockensmith’s The White Magic Five & Dime. Thanks to Steve and his publisher, I’m able to give away a copy of the book, so check out the giveaway near the end of the post!

DESCRIPTION:   

Much to Alanis McLachlan’s surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother’s tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.

With help from a hunky cop and her mother’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way trough tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother’s clients. But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards … and the secrets surrounding her mother’s demise.

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REVIEW:

The White Magic Five & Dime captured and held my attention from the first chapter to the last. It’s an absorbing, character-driven, and rather clever mystery. It’s also surprisingly funny, employing a cynical, sometimes dark form of snark delivered by the main character/narrator, Alanis McLachlan:

I don’t have any cats. They remind me too much of my mother. Beautiful, finicky, aloof, and you’re the one who always has to clean up their crap.


[describing the book’s eponymous store]  And there were these words: The White Magic Five & Dime. Divination * Revelation * Bargains. 
For obvious reasons, Mom had left off her true stock in trade. Lies.

. . . I took it Detective Logan was a popular man. Given his looks, I wasn’t surprised. He was like a taller, younger George Clooney, only not so homely.

Alanis’ narrative voice is perfect;  it never wavers off-pitch, even on the relatively rare occasions when she drops the sarcasm and cynicism for a few moments. In fact, one of the joys of the book is the moments when she allows herself to be soft, to be caring. It’s not something that comes easily to her, and as she reveals her backstory to you through flashbacks, you’ll come to understand why. 

The plot appears straightforward: estranged daughter seeks justice for murdered mother. But there is  much more going on, and several twists that I did not see coming. I did, however, spot the murderer fairly quickly — although to be fair, there were a number of other possibilities and I kept an open mind until nearly the end.

The tarot plays an integral part in the plot, and the descriptions and interpretations of various tarot cards, taken from a (fictitious) book by “Miss Chance”, are often hysterical and occasionally thought-provoking. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the tarot deck; almost all the important cards appear as illustrations somewhere, although in my Kindle version they’re not always connected with the relevant text. Pay attention to the cards and descriptions; they can serve as hints of what’s to come.

Overall, I don’t know that I would class The White Magic Five & Dime as a cozy mystery. Alanis’s background, the fact that it’s her mother’s murder she’s investigating, and the rather shady milieu she finds herself working in all make the book lean more toward “regular” mystery with a comic but not facetious bent. Cozy or not, it’s sometimes insightful, cleverly plotted, and always entertaining. 

Goodreads notes that the book is the first in the Tarot Mystery series. I’m curious as to how a sequel will work. There’s plenty of scope for one, given the denouement and wrap-up, but on the other hand, much of the strength of The White Magic Five & Dime is in the character of Alanis and the slow revelation of her past. A good quarter or third of the book is spent in flashbacks. It’s hard to tell whether the next one, assuming it focuses more on the mystery now that Alanis’ past is known, will have the same appeal. Regardless, book two is going on my TBR list as soon as it’s announced. And that’s despite the fact that this is decidedly not my usual sort of mystery. Kudos to Hockensmith and Falco for grabbing and keeping my interest outside of my usual comfort zone.

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Rating: 4 stars

Category: Mystery
Series: Tarot Mystery #1
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Release date: July 8, 2014
Book source:  I received a digital review copy via Great Escapes Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.

Steve Hockensmith

About the author:
Steve Hockensmith’s first novel, Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony and Dilys awards. He went on to write four sequels as well as a pair of bestselling follow-ups to the international publishing sensation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. More recently, he wrote (with collaborator “Science Bob” Pflugfelder) the middle-grade mysteries Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab and Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage.

The White Magic Five and Dime is co-written with Lisa Falco.



Connect with the Author:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads   

WIN a paperback copy of The White Magic Five & Dime!

Tour Participants
July 8 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review
July 9 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – Review, Book Giveaway
July 10 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Guest Post, Book Giveaway
July 11 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – Review, Tarot Reading Giveaway
July 12 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle – Review, Guest Post
July 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Review, Interview, Book Giveaway
July 14 –Chloe Gets A Chloe – Guest Post

Challenges:

http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/11/cruisin-thru-cozies-reading-challenge.htmlhttp://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/05/coyer-summer-vacation-sign-up-post.html

30 Responses to “TOUR: The White Magic Five and Dime”

  1. lilysbookblog.com

    Awe I actually hasn’t heard of this one before but it sounds like you really enjoyed it! Plus I’m a fan of when books are told in flashbacks so I’ll have to see if I ever get around to this one! 🙂

  2. Katherine P

    This sounds like a fun read! I’m always looking for new mysteries and this sounds unusual but not too cutesy! I will definitely be on the lookout for it.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      That’s why I always offer several other ways to enter; you don’t have to be on Twitter to use Rafflecopter or to enter the giveaway. At the least, there’s the freebie entry – just click it and you’re entered. (You do have to create a Rafflecopter account, I think, but when I signed up, all I had to give them was my name and email address, and create a password.)

  3. Bea

    Oh, I love those samples of Alanis’ humor. It definitely doesn’t sound like a cozy but it does sound good. Based on what you said, I also question how this can continue as a series but I’m curious to see how it pans out.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Kimba, it’s not necessarily your usual book type, either, but I really think you’d like it! Alanis has a distinctive voice and while she’s no angel, she gets under your skin and makes you care for her.

  4. Anne Bennett

    Sure, you asked if you could tag me on some blogger question thingy. Sure. I’m game. Thanks for asking and for visiting my blog. Anne at Head Full of Books

  5. Yvonne

    I loved this one, too. I really think it’s a straight mystery and not a cozy. Good point about a sequel. I’m interested in seeing how this works out too.

  6. Berls

    Sounds really interesting, Lark! I’ve recently become a fan of one cozy mystery series and though you said this one isn’t a cozy exactly, but I think it shares some of the elements that make me really enjoy cozies. Thanks for the great review!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I agree that many readers who like cozies will enjoy this, as long as they’re prepared for a more complex MC than is typical. But it will also appeal to readers who prefer “regular” (i.e. not cozy) mysteries. I hope you give it a try!

  7. traveler

    Thanks for this wonderful giveaway which captured my interest for its intriguing story and Alanis, a character whose life I would follow. This novel is captivating and special. What I like is the story and the cover artwork is dramatic and beautiful evoking another time and place. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com