book cover of Play the Fool
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Play the Fool

A novel by

2024 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel (nominee)

A cynical tarot card reader seeks to uncover the truth about her friend’s mysterious death in this delightfully clever whodunit, “a delicious blend of suspense and madcap humor” (Library Journal, starred review).

For Katie True, a keen gut and quick wit are just tools of the trade. After a failed attempt at adulting in Chicago, she’s back in the suburbs living a bit too close to her overbearing parents, jumping from one dead-end job to the next, and flipping through her tarot deck for guidance. Then along comes Marley.

Mysterious, worldly, and comfortable in her own skin, Marley takes a job at the mall where Katie peddles Russian tchotchkes. The two just get each other. Marley doesn’t try to fix Katie’s life or pretend to be someone she’s not, and Katie thinks that with Marley’s friendship, she just might make it through this rough patch after all. Until the day when Katie, having been encouraged by Marley to practice soothsaying, reads the cards for someone who stumbles into her shop. But when she sneaks a glance at his phone, she finds more than intel to improve her clairvoyance. She finds a photo. Of Marley. With a gunshot wound to the head.

The bottom falls out of Katie’s world. Her best friend is dead? Who killed her? She quickly realizes there are some things her tarot cards can’t foresee, and she must put her razor-sharp instincts to the ultimate test. But Katie’s recklessness lands her in the crossfire of a threat she never saw coming. Now she must use her street smarts and her inner Strength card to solve Marley’s murder—or risk losing everything.

Genre: Mystery

Praise for this book

"A sharp, unique, and memorable debut, Play the Fool is unlike any mystery I've read before - and that's a good thing! Lina Chern's voice shines brightly, and readers will be immediately drawn into Katie True's twisty and gripping investigation. It's a fantastic read." - Alex Segura

"Lina Chern's Play the Fool pulls off a tricky blend of humor and menace that had me flipping pages like crazy. The mystery is fresh and twisty, but it's her characters (and voice) that kept me enthralled. I can't believe this is a debut novel, and I can't wait for more." - Duane Swierczynski

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