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KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hooperman By John M. Daniel



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Sandra Murphy


Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review.

Hooperman is not his real name. It comes from a schoolyard taunt since Superman was too hard for a little boy to pronounce. Now he’s got a stammer that won’t quit–unless he’s quoting poetry.

Hooperman has always hung out on the fringes and he likes it there. After a stint as a pizza baker, he decides to try for a job in the bookstore across the street; it seemed like a good idea at the time. Since he can’t really talk to customers or answer the phone, he’s hired to do what he does best–hang out in the store and roam the aisles, but this time not only for pleasure but to find shoplifters.

The store is suffering significant losses and the boss decides it could be an inside job. Employees consider it a perk to take new books home to read and return. There are an awful lot of books sent to the Return Center, some before they hardly hit the shelf. All in all, it’s a weird set up.



Image source: Oak Tree

A firebomb through the window is added cause for alarm. Hooperman’s relationship–if that’s what you can call it, he’s not sure himself–with fellow employee, Lucinda, is complicated by the appearance of a renowned poet, Jane Gillis, for a reading at the store. No one knows it, but Jane is Hooperman’s ex-wife.

Hooperman is interesting enough to carry the book, but adding in the side characters of Lucinda, Martin West who’s in charge of the stockroom, Elmer the liberal bookstore owner and assorted employees, customers and a liberal police officer fills the book with quirks, character and fun. I hope there’s a Hooperman sequel planned.

Daniel’s other mysteries include: Play Melancholy Baby, The Poet’s Funeral, and Vanity Fire, Behind the Redwood Door. He’s also written cat books, short story collections, non-fiction and e-books.


To enter to win a copy of Hooperman, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Hooperman”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 4, 2014. U.S. residents only.



Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including Bananas Foster.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Blaize of Trouble By Louise Crawford



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Cynthia Chow


Check out details on how to enter to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Blaize McCue not thrilled to be woken up at seven thirty on a Sunday morning by an emergency phone call from her friend Nicole Jackson, especially considering that it was Blaize's fiancée Stephanos Zoloski first day off in three weeks from the Sacramento Homicide Division. However, a request from the FBI agent to babysit her daughter Jenny has Blaize considering it an opportunity to perhaps test out - and hopefully discourage - any paternal instincts residing within her Z-man. The practicing psychologist with a private detective license has managed to mostly overcome her own food addictions and fear of commitment issues, but motherhood is another matter entirely.

Codependent to the end, Blaize cannot resist Nick's plea for help, but concern over Nick’s "routine" bomb threat investigation in Tahoe turns to fear when days pass without contact and Nick is found shot and dumped in the trunk of her car. Clinging to life in the hospital, the few words Nick is able to utter to Blaize are of Jenny's father. While his identity has always been a mystery to Blaize, a path of clues will eventually seem to link him to Nick's former partner and the man who had betrayed both her and the Agency.


Image source: Mundania Press

The shooting puts Blaize in contact with her fiancée’s very attractive partner Agent Bunnie B.C. Brown, who justifiably chooses to go by the initials B.C., but less excusably targets her attentions on the very taken Stephanos. Their investigation has them targeting the man Blaize suspects may be Jenny’s father and whom the FBI believes was involved in the theft of counterfeit money, the murder of another FBI agent, and may even have been responsible for Nick's attack. Compelled both by her therapist and her private detective instincts, Blaize manages to wedge her way into the federal investigation to find the evidence to either punish or clear Jenny's father.

In this third in the series Crawford continues to highlight a very intriguing and original private detective. While Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Milhone seem to plow through fast food and donuts at an alarming rate without concern or gaining an ounce, Blaize must confront and cope with a very realistic eating disorder. Although she has mostly overcome her addiction to food, Blaize still must fight the compulsion to dive into a vat of ice cream when anxious. And with a friend in a coma and a wedding on the horizon, things couldn't get any more stressful. While the ethics may be hazy, Blaize talks her former patient Hackman Pete into providing his skills with the lure of an addict's need for adrenaline, and the Z-man always has her back despite his fears over Blaize's safety.

This is more of a thriller than a mystery but readers will be kept in the dark as to the identity of those responsible and they will definitely enjoy the ride in this blend of police procedural, psychological thriller, and wedding chaos.



To enter to win a PDF copy of Blaize of Trouble, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Season”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 28, 2013. U.S. residents only.


Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).



Friday, December 13, 2013

The Zyratron Affair by Joe Nowlan



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Sandra Murphy


Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review.

Sci-fi is not my genre to read so I was a little hesitant about this book. It turns out I loved it. The sci-fi aspect is just the backdrop for a darn good mystery.

The main character, Ben Hudson, is a photographer for the Boston Banner and really, it was never his plan to discover a dead body—especially when he’d left his camera at home.

Zyratron was a Japanese horror movie from the early 60s. Badly edited, the mouth movements of the actors who spoke Japanese, didn’t match the English dubbed words. The special effects, well, were not so special. It developed a cult following among college students. College students grow up and make a lot of money which they then spend on collectibles they failed to get as kids.

The Zyratron action figure wasn’t very active or well made. Cheap plastic doesn’t hold up plus they only sold a few. Now, the darn things are worth a lot of money. Linda Hamilton (not the Terminator one, the reporter for the Banner), writes a story about vintage toy store owner, Giuseppe GePetto (so he says), who has three of the original figures, not to be confused with new plastic impersonators. It’s Giuseppe’s body that Ben finds.



Image source: Oak Tree

Soon, anyone who has a Zyratron is targeted—original or new—but they’re not stolen and resold. Shattered pieces of plastic are found at the scene. Another murder, more thefts, who is behind it all and why?

The characters are good, the talk among the reporters is spot on with today’s “read online” push and Ben is a delight.

This is a quick read, only 134 pages but you get an added bonus of fourteen pages of Media Blitz, the first in the series at the end. I must say, the excerpt ends at a point that makes you want to read the rest of the book—right now!

In the Author’s Note, Joe Nowlan quotes Elmore Leonard “When you write, try to leave out all the parts the readers skip.” He did that and this is the result, satisfying in itself but it leaves you craving another.

To enter to win a copy of The Zyratron Affair, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Locked”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 21, 2013. U.S. residents only.


Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including Bananas Foster.