Steven Hockensmith (author of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies:Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the Holmes on the Range Mysteries and many other books) teamed up with Tarot expert Lisa Falco to offer us a Tarot mystery entitled: The White Magic Five & Dime. Needless to say, when I saw “A Tarot Mystery” on the cover, I was sold. I love me a good metaphysical mystery.
Alanis McLachland, a telemarketer living in Illinois, has not seen nor spoken to her mother in 20 years. So imagine her surprise when she is notified that her mother has died and left her a new age store in Berdache, Arizona as an inheritance – The White Magic Five & Dime – where her mother worked as a Tarot reader.
Reluctantly, she travels to Berdache with the intention of putting the store immediately up for sale. That is, until she finds out that her mother was murdered. She then decides to stay in Berdache until her mother’s murder is solved – and she takes it upon herself, working along with Logan, the town’s hunky police officer (against his better judgment) to solve the crime and avenge her mother.
In the meantime, she decides to pick up where her mother left off – as one of the town’s Tarot readers, even though she has never learned how. Alanis doesn’t believe in Tarot but when she picks up the cards, she discovers that they are shockingly accurate. Tarot is woven throughout the story as Alanis reads for the locals and to her amazement, the more she reads, the better she gets. She begins to question her original stance on Tarot and can’t help but wonder whether there is something to it after all.
The story slowly unravels through a series of flashbacks and through them, we learn more and more about Alanis’s childhood. Now I’m typically not big on flashbacks as a storytelling device but the authors handled them expertly and I found myself even looking forward to them as they became essential to the storyline.
Through these flashbacks, we learn that Alansis’s mother was a notorious con artist – and she continued the practice in Berdache, making it not very easy to figure out who in town was pissed off enough at her to kill her, as the list of possible suspects was growing rather lengthy. The flashbacks continue through Alanis’s teens with some of them a tad on the gritty side but it is through these narratives that we learn more and more about Alanis’s unfortunate childhood as well as about her mother’s personality and her mother’s cons.
What follows is a zany adventure as Alanis’s encounters and interviews the town’s more colorful characters, convinced that her mother made the fatal mistake of conning the wrong person.
The author is a consummate story teller, of this, there is no doubt. In The White Magic Five and Dime, he takes the story of a hardened grifter and her daughter and sketches a picture of the many roads their lives have taken, ulimately leading to the present moment. In the midst of turmoil and confusion, there is humor. In the midst of darkness, there is light. And as Alenis descends deeper and deeper into the town’s secrets, she learns that all is not as it seems.
So many cons….so many twists….. And through it all, the characters in the novel are well-developed and believable, and as a mystery, this light yet at times serious comical story captivated me from the beginning and held my interest to the end.
Alanis’s sarcasm and witty, smart-assed dialog is laugh-out-loud funny and the peppering of Tarot throughout the story is sure to please Tarot aficionados. I walked away from this book in eager anticipation of Book 2. Recommended!
You can check out the book HERE