The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco

The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa FalcoThe White Magic Five and Dime (Tarot Mystery #1) by Lisa Falco, Steve Hockensmith
Published: Midnight Ink (2014), Paperback, 326pg
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Source: ALA 2014


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.

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I’ll be honest: I was drawn to this book because of the cover and the tarot theme. It’s a cozy mystery set in a tarot shop! So cute, right? It’s also got a tinge of paranormal to it. But it’s not really fantasy? Kinda magical realism maybe? But not really. But kinda? Who knows.

Anyway, I really liked The White Magic Five and Dime. Not only because of the tarot stuff,1 but also because I liked the characters so much. The protagonist/detective, Alanis, is the child of a con artist who doesn’t believe in hokum. She’s more than willing to play along with people who DO believe in hokum, though, if it means she can solve her mother’s murder.

There is also Clarice, Alanis’ mother’s ward who is snarky and has a shell around her that’s about three feet thick. Some of the best scenes in White Magic are the ones where Alanis and Clarice try to connect with each other through layers and layers of snark and emotional pain and parental abandonment. I love me some character depth, what can I say?

The mystery was fairly straight-forward and the only reason I couldn’t figure out the solution was because I was ignoring the obvious clues for some reason. I think I was expecting a typical mystery-with-romance sort of story, when actually it’s a story about family! (With a little bit of murder on the side.) It zigged when I expected it to zag, and so the reveal was a total shock to me. But maybe some other, more savvy reader, would have picked up on it up sooner.

I don’t actually read that many themed cozies nowadays, but I’m totally going to keep up with this series. I love the characters and I want to see what happens to them next!

Read: November 3-4, 2014

  1. which was handled very well, probably because SH wrote this book with an actual tarot reader.

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