Should Have Played Poker by Debra H. Goldstein is the first book in the NEW “Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players” mystery series. Publisher: Five Star Publishing, April 2016

Should Have Played PokerCarrie Martin’s precarious balancing of her corporate law job and visiting her father at the Sunshine Village retirement home is upset when her mother appears, out of the blue, in Carrie’s office twenty-six years after abandoning her family. Her mother leaves her with a sealed envelope and the confession she once considered killing Carrie’s father. Carrie seeks answers about her past from her father prior to facing what is in the envelope. Before she can reach his room, she finds her mother murdered and the woman who helped raise her seriously injured.

Instructed to leave the sleuthing to the police, Carrie’s continued efforts to discover why someone would target the two most important women in her life quickly put her at odds with her former lover–the detective assigned to her mother’s case. As Carrie and her co-sleuths, the Sunshine Village Mah jongg players, attempt to unravel Wahoo, Alabama’s past secrets in this fast paced cozy mystery, their efforts put Carrie in danger and show her that truth and integrity aren’t always what she was taught to believe.

This was a very enjoyable story. I like the set-up with the game of Mah Jongg, a retirement home and a secret that someone didn’t want exposed. This was smoothly paced with enough action to keep me delving into all aspects of this intriguing mystery that I could not put down until I knew who the killer was. The author did a great job of pulling it all together where every character had a role and I liked how it all meshed together with a suspect at every corner but with some surprising twist and turns, the author knocked it out of the park when the killer’s identity was revealed. Good Job! I love that the sleuthing was made easy with the cooperation of the police and the residents of Sunshine Village whose collaboration bought a killer to justice and created a family who will always be there. With a lovable cast of characters, good dialogue and a feel good atmosphere, this was a terrific read and I hope there are more stories with Carrie and her friends.

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