Hiding in Plain Sight By R.P. Dahlke: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

May 6, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow & R.P. Dahlke

This week we have a review of Hiding in Plain Sight by R.P. Dahlke along with an interesting guest post by R.P. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a Kindle copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Hiding in Plain Sight: A Frankie Gates Paranormal Mystery by R.P. Dahlke
Review by Cynthia Chow

After thirty years of living in an unhappy and abusive marriage, Mai-Lin Song is ready to place all of her hopes in a vial promising her regained youth and beauty. What pushes her over the edge and desperate enough to take the fortune teller’s potion is an anonymous phone call informing her that her husband was taking an offer from witness protection and leaving her behind at the mercy of his criminal bosses. With Feds, criminals, and then an apartment fire trapping her in, downing the wish-fulfilling potion seems like an easy choice.

Very interested in the activities of Mai-Lin’s husband Bert Song is Detective Second Class Frankie Gates, who is infuriated that the Feds are beating her in the race to take him in for justice. It looks like they’re all going to lose, though, as Bert Song is shot dead in his apartment and his wife seen fleeing from the scene of the crime. Even more invested in tracking down Mai-Lin and the money her husband had hidden is Roland Chieu, a fixer for the Chinese Mob Boss who lured him into indentured servitude. What none of them know is that the potion Mai-Lin took actually worked, turning her young, beautiful, and … into a dog. Becoming a show-worthy Papillion was never on Mai-Lin’s list of dreams, but it conveniently gives her an undeniable disguise as she hides from the police and the Mob Boss wanting her in his grasp. A secret family heritage gives Frankie an unexpected lead in helping Mai-Lin, but it’s Roland who first gets his hands on Mai-Lin as she attempts to track down the fortune teller responsible for turning her into a dog.

What’s so outstanding about this first installment of a new series is how characters who initially should be unlikable will have readers rooting for them despite, or perhaps because of, their flaws. Mai-Lin is vain, greedy, and not exactly mournful over her husband’s death, yet it’s impossible to not enjoy her antics or hope that she finds her happiness. That she seems to actually enjoy being a Papillion at times is hilarious, even though Mai-Lin is determined to find the fortune teller and be returned to a (hopefully younger and more beautiful) human. Roland Chieu is also much more than a lethal enforcer, as he has been trapped into a criminal lifestyle after once being promised a life as an exchange student and MIT education. It’s hard to not be outshone by an extremely bossy and outraged Papillion, but Frankie Gates holds her own as a half-Scottish, half-Chinese young female detective battling both sexism and racism.

Mai-Lin’s relationships with her Caucasian half-brothers are charming and supportive, while the one with whom she battles the most is her own Chinese mother. Secrets abound within their family, affecting Frankie’s interactions with not just her mother but with her fire chief father. While there is plenty of humor stemming from scenes involving Mai-Lin and her unexpected situation, the serious exploration of different types of abuse adds a compelling layer to this paranormal mystery.

Despite the magical element, this novel leans more heavily on the police procedural side than the mystical, making it a delight for those looking for a more traditional mystery. These witty, compelling, and complicated characters will quickly have readers invested in following their adventures and looking forward to book two, which cannot come soon enough.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

How I Came Up With the Plot For Hiding in Plain Sight
By R.P. Dahlke

When friends and readers ask how I come up with the plot for my books, I have to pause and wonder if it’s a compliment… or not. My ideas don’t always make it into a book, and certainly the premise for this book is completely different from my other books. Though it’s a mystery and humorous, it’s also an urban fantasy. Would my readers like it or think I’ve finally lost my marbles?

The idea for this story came to me when I awoke to the sound of someone speaking. Was someone in our bedroom? It wasn’t my husband, as he was peacefully quiet. I sat up in bed and listened.

R.P. Dahlke

Silence. Then it started up again. The words weren’t coherent, more like the murmur one hears when their partner is talking in their sleep. But, if it wasn’t my husband mumbling in his sleep and no one else was in the room, then who else could it be? The dog? Ha, ha, very funny.

Then I heard it again, and this time I sat up in bed and realized it was coming from my dog’s crate. My Papillon was talking in her sleep! Was she hiding a secret skill?

Wait a minute. Dogs can’t talk … right?

Okay, time to talk to other people about this, and I was surprised to learn that it’s not all that unusual to have dogs that “talk in their sleep.” It’s a mimicking thing and something dogs do. But it got me thinking, what would be a likely scenario for a talking dog in a book? Most talking dog stories have human pals who understand them. But that always seemed like a stretch.

Then how about a twist to the story?

Here’s the setup: All Mai-Lin Song ever wanted was to be free of her cruel husband … well, that and to be young again, and pretty. The kind of beauty that turned heads as she walked down the street. And for a price, her fortune teller had just the thing to make her dreams come true. All she needs to do is swallow the potion and all her dreams will come true … except there’s an unexpected hitch in the plan. She’s a beauty alright, but she’s also a dog. And now she’s hiding under the bed of her fifth floor apartment, watching the devil slide a finger under the door. Her Catholic upbringing scoffs at the superstitious nonsense?the finger is smoke and it has nothing to do with the devil and everything to do with the man who wants her dead.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

To enter to win a Kindle copy of Hiding in Plain Sight, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “hiding” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 13, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

I started my writing career with the Dead Red mystery series because those in the know said to write what you know. When my dad decided he’d rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers, and horrific hours, he handed me the keys and said, “You’ll do just fine.” After two seasons at the helm, I handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, I never flew airplanes as a crop-duster.
My protagonist for this series is a tall, blond and beautiful ex-model turned crop-duster who, to quote Lalla Bains, says: “I’ve been married so many times they oughta revoke my license.” I wanted to give readers a peek at a not-so-perfect life of what happens when a woman takes the helm of a typically “all male” Aero-Ag business. Lalla Bains is no Danielle Steele character; she’s not afraid of chipping her manicure. Scratch that, the girl doesn’t have time for a manicure what with herding a bunch of recalcitrant pilots and juggling work orders just to keep her father’s flagging business alive.
I also wrote two romantic suspense books based on my time sailing in Mexico, A Dangerous Harbor and Hurricane Hole.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. This is certainly different! Count me in!

  2. We have a winner!


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