"A Fool's Journey" By Judy Penz Sheluk: Review/Giveaway/Interview

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of this book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

There’s Always a Catch!
Why is it that Calamity “Callie” Barnstable seems to always be plagued by attached strings? After the accidental death of her father (Skeletons in the Attic), his will had a “catch.” She was surprised to hear she would inherit a house she knew little about and income, IF she finds out who murdered her mother decades before. Murdered? The emotional journey revealed much about family she hardly knew, and Past & Present Investigations was born. Along with her BFF/genealogy expert Chantelle Marchand, retired research librarian Shirley Harrington, self-proclaimed psychic/tarot aficionado Misty Rivers, and antiques and collectibles appraiser Arabella Carpenter, their combined abilities have been able to shed light on the past to illuminate the present, but the “catch” (Past and Present) led to an interesting dilemma about how much should really be revealed publicly. After the death of her maternal great-grandmother, her will had a “catch,” too. She’ll inherit a large sum of money, IF she helps a friend discover what happened to their great-grandson (A Fool’s Journey). With this “catch,” her team embarks on another cold case that’s sure to have twists and surprising revelations...

Marketville Mystery series

Skeletons in the Attic (2017)
Past & Present (2018)
A Fool’s Journey (2019)

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A Fool's Journey earns 5/5 Cold Case Tattoos...Clever & Totally Engaging!

A couple of decades ago a twenty-something college student, Brandon Colbeck, disappeared without a trace, and as a favor, I should say “catch,” asked for in her great-grandmother’s will, Past and Present Investigations has been engaged to use their skills to uncover as much as they can, despite the passage of time, and provide the family with some closure. At the time, an official police investigation had been exhausted and rewards were offered and unclaimed, but a bit later, the great-grandmother received a strange, yet suspicious, phone call from someone claiming to be Brandon. It didn’t result in any answers, and no real evidence pointed to why the young man left or whether he was still alive or not. The family agreed to cooperate, but there seems to be some resistance, suspicions, secrets, and more questions than answers. The mystery may actually be unsolvable, riddled with dead ends, tainted by the passage of two decades, but due diligence and a renewed perspective may result in the closure they all need.

This “fool’s journey” has fascinating links to “The Fool” in a tarot deck, and entering the world of Tattoos and the readings provided by Misty added unique layers to the drama. The team’s investigative efforts are compelling, their revelations are intriguing, and the ultimate twist and final answer are surprising, yet satisfying. I greatly enjoy Judy’s writing style using a first-person narrative from Callie’s perspective highlighting her inner thoughts along with descriptive language and dialogue that does well to illustrate the setting, emotions, and personalities of the characters. However, it’s the cleverness of the mystery and how the answers unfolded that kept me totally engrossed, only pausing due to the lateness of the hour. It’s also the characters that make this series a personal favorite...friendships are key and family seems to always be at the center. This is a stand-alone book, no spoilers, but I highly recommend reading the extraordinary book one, Skeletons in the Attic, that provides a great deal of background to the characters, their connections and motivations, and book two Past & Present that continues with some of the mysteries in book one and is a personal favorite. Don’t be a “fool” and miss this book!

My favorite quote...“Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe. It means act independently and decide your own fate.”

Be a Big Fan!
I am definitely a big fan of Canadian author Judy Penz Sheluk, having enjoyed my beta reader experience with book two, Past and Present, and becoming a Facebook friend. Along with this very engaging three-book Marketville Mystery series, Judy also pens the two-book Glass Dolphin Mystery with which I also loved being a beta reader on the second book Hole in One. She also has a short story book called Live Free and Tri along with participating in the multi-author collections The Whole She Bang 2 and recently The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense. I highly recommended her work...always creative and entertaining! Check them out!

Facebook — Judy Penz Sheluk, Author
Website — Judy Penz Sheluk

The Fool from the Rider Waite deck.
The Ancient Art of Tarot
In Judy Penz Sheluk’s Marketville Mysteries, fascinating connections as well as information about tarot cards is incorporated into the story. Misty Rivers, self proclaimed psychic and tarot expert, has been a fascinating character first introduced in Skeletons in the Attic as the renter in the house Callie inherited. She provided curious psychic feelings about the lilac bush in the backyard and her knowledge of five tarot cards found in an envelope was curious, but invaluable. She was invited to be a member of Past and Present Investigations posting her tarot cards and their meanings on the website often adding an intriguing twist. In A Fool’s Journey the “Fool” took on an important meaning, and the discussion about the card were fascinating.

Excerpt: Chapter 6
[Callie] “Maybe one of you can help me with something else that’s been bothering me. Brandon’s tattoo. It reminds me of something. I tried googling ‘tattoo with a boy’s head and sunshine’ but nothing came close.” Nothing came close was an understatement. Despite scrolling through online images until I’d mercifully fallen asleep, the only thing I’d come up with were tattoos with the words, “You are my sunshine,” and dozens of suns in various shapes and sizes, and occasionally, with a boy’s face inside them.

“That’s because it’s not finished yet,” Misty said, her face flushed with excitement. “It’s The Fool.”

“Who’s the fool?” Shirley asked.

“Not who, what,” Misty said. “The Fool is number zero in tarot, and the first card in the Major Arcana.” She riffled through her rainbow-hued handbag and pulled out a deck. “I never leave home without them. You can never be sure when a reading will be needed.”

Excerpt: Chapter 6
“There’s so much symbolism in this card,” Misty said, her voice filled with admiration. “I like to think that the purple feather stands for freedom, the white rose for purity, and the dog for adventure. Note the bag at the end of his stick he’s carrying, like an old-time hobo. Some believe the bag contains all his worldly possessions, others his memories of past lives. I like to think it’s filled with life experiences to date, ready to be expanded as he travels. A.E. Waite, the designer of the card, wrote that the boy ‘is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one.’”

“He’s very close to the edge of the cliff,” Shirley said. “Does that have any meaning?”

Misty beamed. “A very good question. We are left to wonder if the boy will fall off the cliff, though he looks unconcerned, ready for every adventure as he embraces the beauty of his surroundings. Perhaps he believes his tunic will open like a parachute and save him from a rapid descent. Whatever you might derive from this card, it’s widely accepted that The Fool represents new beginnings, and the number zero a chance to start over. You probably don’t know Eden Gray, but she wrote widely about the tarot and their use in fortune telling, and coined the term ‘Fool’s Journey’ in her book, A Complete Guide to the Tarot. Many advocates of tarot, including myself, believe that The Fool travels through each card in the Major Arcana.”

“It definitely fits with a young man going off into the world to find himself,” Chantelle said.

Check out the three book links above connecting to the KRL reviews of some of Judy Penz Sheluk’s books.

Enjoy these references:
Wikipedia - Eden Gray
Amazon - A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
Trusted Tarot Website - Tarot Card Meanings

To enter to win an ebook copy of A Fool's Journer, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "journey,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 14, 2019. If entering via comment please include your email address. 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 in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon 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.


  1. Thanks for such a fabulous spread, very much appreciated!

  2. This looks interesting.


  3. An interesting genre mashup. Count me in!

    1. Hi Glen, I never thought of it as a genre mashup, but...thanks!

  4. I’ve recently found this series. I’m enjoying book 2 right now. musiqmom(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Thanks Kim. Great to have a new reader! I appreciate your support.

  5. Book sounds fascinating. Adding to my TBR list.

  6. Love to read this..
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com


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