A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest

Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:

A Dead Nephew By Anna Celeste Burke: Review/Giveaway


FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andKathleen Costa,
andMysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Enjoy the review for A Dead Nephew, then find the details at the end to enter exciting and generous giveaways from the author and my friend Anna Celeste Burke. Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow directions. There is also a link to Amazon to purchase the book, if you’d like.

There are “A thousand ways the desert can kill you.” —Harry Essex, screenwriter (Quoted in A Dead Nephew)

Thirty-something Jessica Huntington is a lawyer in a relatively successful firm in the Desert Cities of California. Set among the seven desert cities from Palm Springs to Indio and nestled in the sand and scrub brush of the San Bernardino Mountains, she and her group of friends and colleagues referred to as the “Cat Pack,” assist in a variety of investigations, usually connected to one or more murders. Her amateur investigative talents are not appreciated by the local detective, George Hernandez, who feels she is more a nuisance than help…although her success rate proves him wrong. The crimes that usually fall into her lap are often very personal to someone, and in some way, personal to Jessica giving her an emotional motivation to uncover the truth, and as a lawyer, start the wheels of justice turning.

A Dead Nephew earns 5/5 Desert Palms…Compelling Entertainment!
Aunt Agnes Lugo, a well-respected member of the local tribal community, is convinced that the man convicted of the murder of her nephew, Sacramento Lugo, is innocent. The young man’s body was found stabbed in an isolated area of tribal land, but Jessica was suspicious of the immediate arrest and quick conviction of the victim’s friend, seventeen-year-old Louie Jacobs. After reading court records and police reports, she is concerned that Jacobs’s lawyer didn’t really mount an sufficient defense, then questions are raised about tribal business and connections to a strange figure provide reasonable doubt. She agrees with Aunt Agnes the young man was railroaded and decides to work on the incarnated man’s appeal.

Betsy Stark at Public Services has learned from Xavier Oliver, a well-worn homeless man, about a “Devil” of a man who is preying on many of the homeless living out in the desert. Jessica shares the information with Detective George Hernandez, and suggests he interview Mr. Oliver to see if the homeless man’s insights may be connected to Sacramento Lugo’s murder. However, he’s not entirely on board with the idea and questions Oliver’s credibility. He’s not always been a fan of Jessica’s and spews theories about it being a set up by the victim’s aunt to reopen the case. But, however you look at it, a two-legged predator is prowling the area…The Cleaner Man.

Wow! From the first revelation from the very worried Mr. Oliver, Anna Celeste Burke set readers onto a dramatic cozy adventure with a bit of police/lawyer procedural edge…rumors of a “white-hatted” stranger, stalkers in the periphery, and secrets the powerful will do anything to keep secret make it difficult to determine the true motive behind the murder. But “My friends are like me…as curious as cats.” and Jessica’s “gut feelings” are key to uncovering all, but not without some nail-biting personal peril! With a first-person narrative from Jessica’s perspective, her writing style uses descriptive language to paint a clear picture of the desert community and dialogue that keeps readers engaged in the emotions and providing insights into the characters’ personalities. The murder mystery and subsequent investigation were compelling and complex, and the “el hombre limpio” is scary; the details of Tahquitz legends, mysterious deaths, and a clash between tribal and state law enforcement were fascinating…and the dynamic between the “Cat Pack” and their interactions with law enforcement make for an extraordinary series. The final reveal, understanding, and the last scenes were just plain, “WOW!”

One of Burke’s signature writing elements is providing titles for each chapter; Calamity Magnetism, Pandora’s Box, Donkey Games, Angry Women, and A Place Called Home, to name a few. It’s my own little mystery as I try to discern her rationale or inner meaning for her choices. I love it!

Bonus! No matter the theme or degree of drama, readers can always count on several easy to-follow recipes for any occasion: [Bernadette’s] Italian Beans and Green, Tangy Spicy Chicken Margherita with Easy Homemade Pesto, and Simple Garlic and Olive Oil Linguine, [Frank’s favorite] Italian Cream Cake, [Brien drools for] Vegan Brownies, and [Bribe worthy] Italian Lemon Drop Cookies (Anginetti) and Chocolate Amaretti Cookies.

Alert! The next book, A Dead Surgeon, is set to be released later this year. Jessica has been visiting her personal physician for “personal” reason, but is shocked when she receives a call from her doctor frantic that she is the primary suspect in the death of a former colleague…but the issue is more complicated since the victim is also the doctor’s ex-husband!

Be a Big Anna Celeste Burke Fan!
Along with the six-book Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series, Anna Celeste Burke pens four other very entertaining series that offer different aged females with realistic flaws but strength of character and different setting within California from the coast to the desert, but all with the same well-written adventure, humor, and realism. There is the seven-book Georgie Shaw Mystery, the three-book Seaview Cottages Mystery, the three-book Calla Lily Mystery, and the three-book Corsario Cove Mystery.

Facebook – Anna Celeste Burke
Website – Desert Cities Mystery/Anna Celeste Burke
Twitter – aburke59

Exciting Giveaways! To enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card (one winner), eBook copy of the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery set Book 1-5 (two winners), OR eBook copy of A Dead Nephew (two winners), you just need to use the Rafflecopter set up by author Anna Celeste Burke. The winners will be selected on July 18, 2020. You must be at least 18 to enter. Be sure to read the “Terms and Conditions” on the Rafflecopter. The KRL privacy statement is HERE if you’d like to read it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 check our our new mystery podcast! A new episode goes up on New Year’s Day.

You can use this link to purchase these book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

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.

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary C July 11, 2020 at 9:04am

Tribal versus state law is always an interesting read.


2 Jenna P July 11, 2020 at 9:44am

Looking forward to reading this! I love reading CA centered books, especially mysteries. Cali love! <3


3 NANCY July 11, 2020 at 10:16am

Sounds terrific. Great covers.
A recent post from NANCY: Thrive While Teaching & Learning at HomeMy Profile


4 Anna Celeste Burke
Twitter: @aburke59
July 11, 2020 at 1:26pm

Such a great review! Thank you so much. You covered so much of the fun, action, and suspense I packed into this book. Food and friendship too, of course! The desert is a constant inspiration for mystery and intrigue and I can’t wait to challenge Jessica and her friends again in A Dead Surgeon. Good luck to all of you who leave a comment. I can’t wait to get your feedback too. Happy reading. xx Anna


5 bn100
Twitter: @Lysette
July 11, 2020 at 2:15pm

nice review


6 Peggy Hyndman July 11, 2020 at 4:27pm

I’ve never read a book written by Anna Celeste Burke that I didn’t love. She’s a gifted author.


7 Nancy Wolfe
Twitter: @ring094
July 11, 2020 at 5:20pm

The Jessica Huntington series is wonderful. She is so smart and with the help of her “rat pack” can be counted on to solve the case. Anna Celeste Burke’s books are always fun to read and I look forward to each new one.


8 Donna Wolz July 11, 2020 at 5:55pm

I love all of Celeste’s books. A Dead Nephew is her most complex case and was thoroughly enjoyable.


9 Sheila Siarkiewicz
Twitter: @racemom07
July 11, 2020 at 7:09pm

I love the Jessica Huntington series!! Anna Celeste Burke is one of my favorite authors!


10 Mya Murphy July 11, 2020 at 7:58pm

This series looks super good!! I love mysteries!!


11 Calvin July 12, 2020 at 12:08am

Interesting book, have heard of the a few from this author before.


12 Kara Marks July 12, 2020 at 12:11am

I have this series and need to find time to read it all. I love the Georgie Shaw books so much, so I know I’ll like these.


13 Carol Knudtson July 12, 2020 at 6:32am

I love Anna’s books but haven’t started this series yet. I’m sure it’s as good as the others.


14 Julie Waldron July 12, 2020 at 6:52am

This is a new author to me. It sounds like a great series!


15 Roseann Moss
Twitter: @rose7am
July 12, 2020 at 7:52am

love books set in the west. This goes on my to be read list.


16 Renee Collins
Twitter: @DrReneeCCo
July 12, 2020 at 8:36am

Anna Celeste Burke….I thought I had read this one…but I haven’t. This means a purchase today and a new read tonight! Looking forward to this. Thanks again for being an author and sharing your stories with the world.


17 Jana Leah
Twitter: @Jana
July 12, 2020 at 9:06am

This book sounds like a fun read & I’m looking forward to trying out the recipes (especially the Italian Lemon Drop Cookies).


18 Jackie Wisherd July 12, 2020 at 10:17am

I like reading books set in the Southwest. I know I would enjoy reading this one.


19 Anne
Twitter: @anne
July 12, 2020 at 10:38am

A Dead Nephew sounds captivating, intriguing and fascinating. The characters sound very interesting and their portrayal realistic. The setting would be wonderful to read about and the mystery unique. Thanks for this wonderful feature and giveaway which would be greatly enjoyed.


20 Dianne Casey July 12, 2020 at 11:17am

Love this series. Would love to read “A Dead Nephew”. Thanks for the chance.


21 Marla B July 12, 2020 at 12:51pm

This is a fun series, and I love the new covers!


22 Anne July 12, 2020 at 6:53pm

I’ve enjoyed this author’s other work, but somehow i missed hearing about this series. It sounds interesting and a bit different.


23 Erika
Twitter: @None
July 15, 2020 at 12:54pm

This book has it all: action, adventure, atmosphere!


24 wen budro July 15, 2020 at 12:55pm

This looks like an intriguing read. The plot and the characters sound interesting and compelling. I would love to read this.


25 Laura P July 15, 2020 at 12:55pm

Can’t wait to read


26 Heather Kaufman July 15, 2020 at 1:00pm

This sounds like a great book.


27 Carolyn Theriot July 15, 2020 at 1:06pm

Wow. I didn’t know there were so many books in this series.


28 michaela hofer July 15, 2020 at 1:07pm



29 Joye I July 15, 2020 at 1:09pm

I am always looking for new authors to read. You write the kinds of books I enjoy reading.
This sounds really good.


30 Rhonda Stibbe July 15, 2020 at 1:09pm

This is a new author to me. will have to look into this book 😉


31 Sally July 15, 2020 at 1:24pm

Wow. What a good detailed description.


32 Cindi Knowles
Twitter: @Msredk1
July 15, 2020 at 1:34pm

I love Anne’s books, she’s a great writer. I haven’t started this series yet but I’m looking forward to it!


33 kim charlton July 15, 2020 at 2:00pm

I am a HUGE super fan of cozy mysteries…I love a lot of genres , but this is always my go to pick!


34 Jacob
Twitter: @N/A
July 15, 2020 at 2:09pm

It would be refreshing to read a book set in the desert rather than a major city.


35 Barbara July 15, 2020 at 2:15pm

Sounds very interesting. Look forward to reading it.


36 Jenne Turner July 15, 2020 at 3:31pm

This sound so different from all the cozies that I have read so far.


37 Chrisy Santerre Markey July 15, 2020 at 4:09pm

I would be so excited to read these books!


38 Jane Geiger July 15, 2020 at 4:46pm

Great review! I love all of Anna’s series, can’t wait go get this one.


39 Jane Ballard July 15, 2020 at 5:13pm

Anna Celeste Burje is one of my favorite authors! She’s also one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering.Dead Nephew is the only book in this series I don’t have. Thanks for this opportunity— you’re such an asset to the cozy community, KRL!


40 Sharon Guagliardo
Twitter: @catwoman1a
July 15, 2020 at 6:10pm

This series is so enjoyable. I can never wait patiently for the next book to come out.


41 Alicia Haney July 15, 2020 at 6:25pm

This book sounds like a great read and a really good page turner! Thank you for sharing about it.


42 Jeana
Twitter: @StuffSmart
July 15, 2020 at 7:05pm

I love books with a lot of suspense. I need to add this one to my TBR pile.


43 M July 15, 2020 at 7:11pm

Can’t wait to read this latest installment in the series! Love the series. 🙂


44 Crystal Blackburn July 15, 2020 at 7:20pm

Great Review. I need to read this book.


45 Fiona July 15, 2020 at 8:03pm

I love this series! I can’t wait to read this one and the new one coming later.


46 Mary Holshouser July 15, 2020 at 8:37pm

Sounds like a good read.
Love the title. thanks
for the offer


47 Jeanine Carlson July 15, 2020 at 9:23pm

Anna Celeste Burke always has such great books! I love her Jessica books and can’t wait to see what’s next! Email is somesmartcookle at aol dotcom. Cookle has an L, not an i.


48 Carolyn Valdez July 16, 2020 at 12:43am

I can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for the chance to enter this giveaway.


49 Beyond Comps July 16, 2020 at 12:45am

Love the cover and sounds like a great read!


50 Sharon Forrest July 16, 2020 at 6:41am

I enjoyed Death of a Husband, and this one sounds equally intriguing.


51 Lois July 16, 2020 at 8:01am

Love her stories


52 sherry fundin
Twitter: @sherry fundin
July 16, 2020 at 9:35am

sounds like a good one. great cover too
A recent post from sherry fundin: Books From The Backlog – Godsworld by Alden Scott #AldenScott #booksfromthebacklogMy Profile


53 Gabrielly
Twitter: @GabyMargutti
July 16, 2020 at 11:44am

Sounds very interesting. Looking forward to reading this!


54 Sheryl Sens
Twitter: @naninani
July 16, 2020 at 1:00pm

I’ve not read this series yet..!! Thanks for this review & giveaway. nani_geplcs(at)yahoo(dot)com


55 wendy July 16, 2020 at 1:12pm

Sounds interesting


56 Tara Brown
Twitter: @tarafarah7
July 17, 2020 at 1:50pm

I love the Jessica Huntington series!! Anna Celeste Burke is my forever #1 favorite author!! You are all going to love A Dead Nephew; I can’t wait for A Dead Surgeon to be released. Woohoo! Awesome review – thank you!!


57 Kari Coffey July 17, 2020 at 7:50pm

Sounds very interesting…always looking for a new good read.


58 Blanca Rodriguez July 17, 2020 at 8:02pm

Never read the series, or anything about the writer but I’m quiet interesting in it.


59 LeonieT July 18, 2020 at 8:40am

This is a new author to me and the books sounds right up my alley!


60 Dynal Roberson July 18, 2020 at 9:17am

Looks like an interesting read, can’t wait to check it out.


61 Christine
Twitter: @celticmaiden73
July 18, 2020 at 7:07pm

I am always looking for new-to-me authors. This sounds like an interesting read.


62 Jenny July 18, 2020 at 7:43pm

Always enjoy Anna Celeste Burke thanks for sharing the review I look forward to this read.


63 kelly woods July 18, 2020 at 7:48pm

This author is new to me but sounds interesting.


64 Amber Chandler
Twitter: @chandlermom221
July 18, 2020 at 7:49pm

Was looking for my next book and this is definitely it!!!


65 Dana Matthews July 18, 2020 at 7:49pm

I’ve never read this author or series. Very interesting!


66 Debra Pearlstein
Twitter: @MissingLynxx
July 18, 2020 at 7:57pm

I’ve been looking for an interesting read and this really intrigues me. I want to check this one out soon.


67 Elizabeth Sul-Celline
Twitter: @mselizann
July 18, 2020 at 7:58pm

I would love to read this!


68 Pamela Sloss
Twitter: @slossyssweeps
July 18, 2020 at 7:59pm

Seems like a great book. Hopefully, I can read it soon!


69 Rhonda Fuller July 18, 2020 at 8:06pm

Thank you for a give away and brightening our day


70 Dana Moore July 18, 2020 at 8:06pm

I’m intrigued and sounds like a lot of research went into this book


71 Jacob Bray July 18, 2020 at 8:13pm

Gotta love mysteries and I love the cover.


72 Deb K July 18, 2020 at 8:16pm

Great Review~I can’t wait to read this!


73 Nikki D. July 18, 2020 at 8:57pm

I haven’t read this yet but I will certainly add it to my lust to read. Sounds really interesting.


Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales