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Reviewed by Daniel P. Douglas for Readers' Favorite
In the cozy mystery Killer Kung Pao by Patrice Lyle, we accompany Dr. Piper Meadows to Florida for a three-day body, mind, and spirit expo. The expo is intended for spiritual/psychic types, and not for someone like the good Dr. Meadows, who is a naturopathic doctor. As it turns out, however, her 91-year-old Aunt Alfa had registered Dr. Meadows as an “aromatherapist,” an acceptable profession for the event. More questions surround Aunt Alfa after she allegedly provides a peanut oil free Kung Pao lunch to Mystic Ming, a kick-ass key event psychic with a deadly allergy to the nut. Unfortunately for Dr. Meadows and Aunt Alfa, however, Mystic Ming dies abruptly upon eating the peanut oil-laced meal. Murder accusations fly and, not wanting her beloved aunt to go to prison for a crime she did not commit, Dr. Meadows assumes the role of private investigator with the aid of handy flash cards (for the profession) that she orders on the Internet.
Mrs. Lyle’s Killer Kung Pao offers readers a cozy mystery filled with lively depictions of colorful characters. The author presents a fun-filled murder-mystery with solid writing skills and descriptions in a strong voice. Pacing is quick and the structure is near flawless. As she is an outcast at the spiritual/psychic expo, I enjoyed how Dr. Meadows uses the P.I. flash cards as her own version of “spirit guides” to help her try to solve the mystery. In addition, I cherished the author’s description of “deep V” eyebrows being the look of a “real P.I. in the midst of a serious investigative thought.” Intended or not, I interpreted it as the author’s homage to the great Sam Spade’s V-shaped visage. Dashiell Hammett would be proud, Mrs. Lyle. If you like well-written, quality cozy mysteries, then don’t miss reading Killer Kung Pao. Mystic Ming also says it kicks ass.