Play the Fool: Review

About the Book:

Title: Play the Fool 

Author: Lina Chern 

Publisher: Bantam 

Release Date: March 28, 2023

Pages: 320

Genre: YA Mystery, YA Thriller, YA Contemporary 


A cynical tarot card reader seeks to uncover the truth about her friend’s mysterious death in this delightfully clever whodunit.61327487

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. So one day, having been encouraged by Marley to practice soothsaying, Katie reads tarot for someone who stumbles into her shop. But when she sneaks a glance at his phone, she finds more than just clairvoyant intel. 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 the truth has deadly consequences, and Katie’s recklessness lands her in the crossfire of a threat she never saw coming. Now Katie must use her street smarts and her inner Strength card to solve Marley’s murder–or risk losing everything.



*I received an e-arc via Netgalley and the publisher for review. Thank you for the opportunity! All thoughts are my own.*

I really enjoyed this mystery by debut author, Lina Chern! I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it after reading the first page or two, but I’m glad I kept going, as it kept me wanting to read more from there on out!

Katie True is a middle child who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago with rather overbearing parents. Her older sister is quite successful doing real estate, and her brother is a neurodivergent college student. She has been floating from job to job, ever since she quit college. Her most recent job is working in a Russian knick-knack shop in the mall, where she plays with her tarot cards when the shop is quiet. Tarot has always been a passion of hers. Katie doesn’t really make friends, and so she is happy when she connects with Marley who works at another shop in the mall. They seem to get each other, and Katie feels like she can be herself with Marley.

One day, after being encouraged by Marley to read tarot as that’s her passion, she reads the cards of a man who comes into the shop battered and bloodied. When he leaves the room briefly, Katie snoops on his phone and sees a picture of her friend Marley, with a bullet in her head!

Katie’s world is completely rocked, and she can’t believe that her friend is dead. She realizes that there are some things the cards can’t foresee. She winds up going to the police, but they don’t seem too concerned, as there is nothing left at the crime scene, but a necklace that Katie found. Katie decides that she must find out what happened to Marley, regardless of the possible danger.

I really loved the relationship between Katie and her brother Owen, and how that was explored in the story. They just really understood each other, and I thought that was beautiful! I also enjoyed the connection that she makes with Jamie at the police station, the only one who seems to believe her story.

I recommend this standalone for fans of a good YA mystery! I enjoyed following the clues that led to a great ending!

About the Author:

Lina Chern has been published in Mystery Weekly, The Marlboro Review, the Bellingham Review, Rhino, The Collagist, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and The Coil. She lives in the Chicago area with her family. Play the Fool is her debut novel. 16168786._UY200_CR49,0,200,200_

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