Here I unpack the closet of my life!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review of HOLY DEATH by Harol Marshall

HOLY DEATH: The First P.I. Berger Novel

By Harol Marshall

Alabaster Book Publishing, 2008

Review by Cindy Chow

Take a tough-talking private detective who calls women “broads” and thinks that the prospective client who just walked in has blond hair that "flowed over her shoulders like cheese sauce on a baked potato." Add the PI’s hot secretary who is nicknamed "Bunny" and happens to be sleeping with the boss. Now however, surprise the reader by making the detective a thirty-something woman and having her eye-candy assistant Bernando "Bunny" Contreras be a part-time standup comedian/karate instructor/secretary. What you get is this very unique take on the noir mystery by Harol Marshall. Pauline (Polly) Isabel Berger is a PI both in name and profession. She's less than thrilled, though, with her new leggy client Cinda Mae Bradbury, who thinks that her boyfriend is being poisoned by Santa Muerte, which is both a cult and a saint. However, it's Cinda Mae's husband who meets his maker first, with the boyfriend arrested as the culprit. A hysterical -and often confusing - Cinda Mae insists that Antonio is not guilty, insisting that Polly prove his innocence.

With the aid of one of her cop ex-husbands (she has two), Polly meanders her way through Cinda Mae's malapropos, metaphors, and lies. Polly also has to juggle the jealousy of her assistant (who isn't bothered by their 12 year age difference) and the flirtatious attentions of her Ex. If she can still manage to solve the case, it will definitely be a miracle.

A noir mystery featuring a hard-boiled female detective, the novel never takes itself too seriously. The dialogue can often be exhausting with its continual inclusion of puns, ridiculous names, and jokes, but the characters are likable enough to make the reading a pleasure. Anyone looking for a parody of the classic, noir mystery will find enjoyment in the first installment of this series.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Check out the Book Blogger Hop!

Trying something new this week-it's called the Book Blogger Hop! Check it out if you love books, it's a lot of fun. Just go to Crazy For Books
Happy Reading & Good Coffee!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review of LAW & DISORDER by Mary Jane Maffini

By Mary Jane Maffini
Rendezvous Crime, $16.95

Review by Cindy Chow

Everyone loves a dead lawyer joke. Until real lawyers end up dead.

Ottawa victim’s advocate attorney Camilla MacPhee was anxiously awaiting the conviction of Lloyd Brugel, especially after her client committed suicide soon after testifying and being grilled by Brugel’s sleazy lawyer, Rollie Thorsten. When Thorsten turns up shot dead and dumped in the Rideau River, Camilla assumes that it’s just another way of Brugel delaying his court sentence. She changes her mind when her favorite client, reformed art thief Bunny Mayhew, turns up on her doorstep with the news that he’s been receiving letters containing lawyer jokes, followed by notes naming a recently deceased attorney. Due to the easily distracted and borderline incompetent assistant her father saddled with her with, Camilla discovers that she also had unknowingly been receiving the same “warnings.” When the police disregard her suspicions, Camilla recruits her computer savvy senior citizen friend to help investigate and prevent further deaths. Her assistant Alvin Ferguson both aids and hinders her as he prepares for the arrival of Camilla’s boyfriends daughters, whom Camilla was unaware would be staying at her house. A bulldog of a real estate agent, determined to help Camilla sell an unwanted inheirtence, adds complications as Camilla attempts to discover what ties all of the deceased attorneys together and who may have it in for her, her client, and the law profession.

A hilarious contrast to the morose, disillusioned, lawyers of John Grisham, Camilla proves to be a delightful, impetuous, impulsive, and occasionally irrational character who bulldozes her way through in order to help her friends. A short, dark, changeling in a family of tall, svelte, blonde, sisters, Camilla dodges their attempts to meddle in her life as she copes with the arrival of her love interest’s daughters who also have a history of interference. The characters and intricate plot keep the pace of the novel moving quickly, and a rather unorthodox observation by Camilla provides her with a completely unexpected solution. This fourth in the Camilla MacPhee series will have readers eager for the next, if only to see if her life will ever get less complicated.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New book review!

Check out Cindy Chow's review of IDENTITY CRISIS by Debbi Mack


By Debbi Mack

Quiet Storm Publishing, 2005

ISBN: 978-0-557-08325-1, $15.99

Review by Cindy Chow

A domestic violence case turns deadly for Maryland attorney Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae, but not in the way that would be expected. This time, it’s the abuser who’s been shot dead, with the police and an FBI agent wanting to know the location of Sam’s client Melanie Hayes, who has just gone missing. To further upset Sam’s life, she just barely escaped having her own identity stolen by an imposter applying for a credit card in her name.

Feeling responsible for her client and then hired by Melanie’s boss, Sam investigates Melanie’s home and the dead man’s life, discovering that Melanie’s Ex worked at a strip club and seemed to have been falling apart mentally at the end up of his life. Teaming up with a private investigator who served papers on Melanie alleging that she was involved in identity theft cases, Sam gets herself involved in more trouble than she could ever expected.

For a first novel, Identity Crisis is very well-written and reads smoothly with a plot that is tied up satisfactorily if not neatly. Sam herself proves to be complicated and somewhat ethically flexible. She’s unwilling to break a federal law by opening an envelope that was sent to a post office box rented out illegally in her own name, yet swipes the appointment book from her missing client’s home and even breaks into the office of a strip club after hours. She has a married lover, one who is on the opposing side of her legal case. More disturbing for me though, is that she’s beaten so severely by mafia-types wanting to know information that she spends a week in the hospital and yet neglects to reports the attack to either the police or her district attorney boyfriend. It’s a plot hole that had me seriously questioning Sam’s judgment as a member of the bar.

However, this novel did keep me completely riveted to the end and truly had me liking Sam, her humor, and her dedication to her client. Sam is realistically flawed, and this just makes her all the more relatable to those who may be jaded by tough-talking, cynical detectives. Sam deserves another outing soon that will show her growth as a person, an attorney, and as an investigator. Readers will be rewarded by another appearance of a Sam McRae mystery.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Closet Becomes Long Term Temporary Cafe!

2010 has definitely been a year of change-both good and bad. One change has been that of webmasters for my personal writing/singing website, so although my website remains at with a lot of great stuff on it, including sample chapters of my earlier books, it has not been updated in several months.
Since another change has been to start my own online magazine at, with the assistance of my new webmaster, that same new webmaster is swamped with that project as am I. Because of this I have decided that the old website will remain where and as it is, and the new one will go live on January 1, 2011 with a brand new look! My book review and author interview section of my website, The NoName Cafe, will remain as is for now at the old site as well, and will be reborn anew with fresh new material in January at the new one.
In the meantime-the Closet will become my new temporary home for great mystery book reviews and some author interviews! So be on the lookout for some great new stuff coming up here very soon. Who knows-maybe even tomorrow! lol
You may also follow me on Twitter @mysteryrat or check out my Facebook pages.
As always,
Happy Reading & Good Coffee
Lorie Ham