Acquired Book By: I was selected to review “Should Have Played Poker” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 3rd Year Book Blogger. I received my complimentary ARC copy of Should Have Played Poker from the publicist at JKS in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
This is a double-showcase for Cosy Mystery author, Debra H. Goldstein: wherein I am first revealling my impressions on behalf of her novel whilst immediately sharing the questions which came to mind to enquiry on her behalf about writing Cosies and where she’d like to take her stories hereafter. Her novel ‘Should Have Played Poker’ celebrated it’s #bookbirthday & #PubDay on the 20th of April, 2016.
“Should Have Played Poker” introduces Carrie Martin and her fellow sleuths, the Sunshine Village retirement home Mah Jongg players, as they work to uncover the mystery behind her mother’s murder.
Carrie’s life as a young corporate lawyer who is balancing her job and visiting her father at the retirement home is upset when her mother unexpectedly returns 26 years after abandoning her family. Her mother leaves her with a sealed envelope and the confession that she once considered killing Carrie’s father. Before Carrie opens the envelope, she finds her mother murdered and the woman who helped raise her seriously injured.
Instructed to leave the detective work to the police, Carrie and the ladies in the retirement home’s Mah Jongg circle attempt to unravel Wahoo, Alabama’s past secrets, putting Carrie in danger and at odds with a former lover – the detective assigned to her mother’s case.
Places to find the book:
Published by Five Star Publishing
on 20th April, 2016
Format: Paperback ARC
Order of connection (story and/or characters): the setting of the University of Michigan was originally introduced in Goldstein’s debut novel “Maze in Blue” where some of the characters also made their first appearance. The Mah Jongg players at the retirement home originally were highlighted in the short story “Legal Magic”. Therefore this is the third installment of connective threads of either setting, story or characters by Goldstein.
My Review of Should Have Played Poker:
Curiously, Carrie’s mother re-enters her life after twenty-six years apart from her (which is quite colossal if you consider Carrie’s only nine and twenty years!) giving her daughter a thin veil of a hint towards why she exited her life and chose this particular moment to make amends with the explanation she was always due to receive. You can feel the emotional shift in the room whilst Carrie and her mother are having this short conversation, one that doesn’t lend well to length as how do you knit together a connection with someone who is still withholding information? I was surprised Carrie kept quiet and did not explode outright as her mother walked out the door, leaving behind a letter and silence.
Her feelings abate whilst she absorbs the void of disclosure, Carrie moves forward with her day settling into a rhythm of work and personal time off the clock where she visits her father at a retirement home. It’s here where she’s put together a new kind of family, wherein she has garnished the familiarity of the residents and have found a welcoming nod of acceptance amongst them. One in particular is a old favourite of her childhood – a librarian and her father has taken his residency here as a blessing, as he has Alzheimer’s which slowly erodes his memory and faculties. Whilst she makes her way to her father’s room, you could say she’s jolted for a loop twice in one day with circumstances surrounding her mother! So much so, I’m quite sure Carrie will feel quite undone by the time the hours dissolve off the clock and the shock wears off where the only thing that remains are her thoughts and her unresolved anguish. Read More