I found the White Magic Five and DIme while browsing through eBooks. From the cover art and the description, this one looked like a nice new-age themed chic-lit novel.
It’s nothing at all like that.
Just to be clear: I really enjoyed this book.
Unfortunately, this novel suffers from extraordinarily poor marketing, beginning with the 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 through 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.
This sounds like standard chic-lit with a bit of a low-key family mystery thrown in for dramatic effect. In reality, the book is about Alanis, a woman who survived a harrowing childhood at the hands of hardened criminals. She manages to escape by conning her con-artist mother but can’t shake the law of the street. Well into adulthood, Alanis is convinced she owes her mother a heavy debt. When a lawyer locates Alanis to pass along the news that mom has not only been murdered but left behind an inheritance in her name, she decides it’s time to pay back her debt by finding the killer and exacting revenge street-style. Alanis does this knowing that there is a very strong possibility that her mother is using the inheritance to set-up her estranged daughter for some hardcore revenge post-mortem.
The fact that Alanis has been living in secret, under an assumed name, with her every move entirely focused on not being found by her mother, makes the letter-from-the lawyer even more interesting.
That’s where this book begins.
It’s a murder mystery set in a small town with a woman cast as the primary hard-hitting tough-as-nails mystery-solving hero. The new-age magic and tarot cards are merely part of the story because…and only because…that was the narcissistic mother’s last con-game.
This book reminded me of the V I Warshawski books by Sara Paretsky. I’ve posted quotes from both Hockensmith and Paretsky to this blog – go ahead and compare the two!
I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it, but ignore the marketing material – here is a more accurate description:
The White Magic Five & Dime is hard-hitting murder mystery featuring tough people with difficult lives. There’s abuse, neglect, and extremely non-motherly actions; but there is also a solved mystery, adventure and….ultimately…a daughter who manages to put the ghost of her mother to rest.
- Steve Hockensmith book list on Amazon.com
- Steve Hockensmith official website.
- Sara Paretsky book list on Amazon.com.