"Cleanup on Aisle 6" By Daniel Stallings: Review/Giveaway

by Kathleen Costa

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

A Blue Light Special on...Murder!
It wasn’t his fault that a passenger ended up sunburned to death, but in the aftermath, it was he who lost his job with the Howard Cruise Line. This is where we find young Liam Johnson: down on his luck, wandering up and down the aisles of a hole-in-the-wall grocery store, and lamenting how expensive things are. Fortunately, a chance encounter, punctuated by a crash on the floor, leads to the offer of a job. His predicament, illustrated by worn out shoes and a growling stomach, is noticed by Reuben Rodriguez. He takes the young Liam under his wing, offering a big-brother friendship, mentoring in all things pyramid, and providing a way for Liam to reconnect with his mother and sister. Life seems a little brighter, even beneath the flickering fluorescent lights of Esther’s Family Grocery.

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Cleanup on Aisle 6 earns 5/5 Spicy Karma Mysteries...Engaging with an Edge!

“Information fueled clout. And clout, the brass ring...could smooth out
any hiccup in an otherwise flawless situation.”

Oscar Lindstrom is not your typical restaurant critic. His reviews are more venomous, often poisoning the minds of patrons and resulting in reputations ruined an businesses struggling to survive or closing all together. “You’re a shining example of how much murder we can get away with using our words.” His unvarnished blog “Tough Bite to Swallow” has quite the following, and his equally acerbic post in the Shorewood Gazette gave the paper a big boast in readership. But, it isn’t just his harsh perspective, Oscar takes pleasure in making people squirm, torturing them with their weaknesses, subjugating them at the twirl of his cane. So, his death, his murder, discovered in the middle of the spice aisle by our poor Li Johnson, entangles many of those abused, tortured, and subjugated: his editor Frank Dixon, wife Kathryn and son Jason, the mayor’s wife Constance Henderson, and Reuben. However circumstantial, Reuben’s earlier visceral reaction to seeing Oscar, refusal to answer Li’s questions, and reluctance to explain his connection to the victim make him the most obvious target for the investigating detectives. For Li, trying to be open-minded, happens upon details, eavesdrops on conversations, and is somewhat unsure of his friend’s innocence. But, if he has anything to do with it, avoiding personal peril, he’ll protect his new friend.
Image Source Pace Press

“Oscar’s dead. I mean...are all our problems over? Are we free?”

Engrossing...Compelling! Daniel Stallings has penned an intriguing page-turner providing karma, my favorite wielder of justice, the perfect opportunity. The victim, expertly described, was an obvious and well-received choice, and the many legitimate suspects and motives gave my inner Sherlock quite a challenge. Using a third-person narrative, although not my favorite literary perspective, Stallings does well to provide his various characters center attention, but it is young Li’s interest, investigation, and predicaments that drive the drama. Li may be down on his luck, but he shows strength of character, courage, and resolve not letting the detectives push him aside or threaten to put him in a cell. The detectives are not bumblers, but by-the-book, skilled veterans, and although not easily willing to let amateur detectives in on official business, they recognize and even validate Li’s theories and intelligence. Stallings’s writing style is very enjoyable with a clever dry sense of humor along vivid descriptive language and dialogue that illustrates well the setting, the characters, emotions, tone, and personalities. I enjoyed how each chapter had its own title (ex. Oscar the Grouch, An Awkward Alibi, When Words Hurt), a mechanism few authors employ, yet adding to the author’s creativity and my interest in determining their hidden meaning. I have to admit that Stallings had me so engrossed in the story, I couldn’t wait for his reveal of the killer. I cheated; ok, it’s not really cheating, but the suspense was killing me. Almost three-fourths through the book, anxiously weeding through the secrets being revealed, threats being made, and various traps and peril, I turned to the final two chapters...Whew! I did go back and read the other chapters that filled in all the details on motives and stories and a few more perilous moments, but what a ride! Cozy fans who enjoy a bit of an edge will relish this book. Although I don’t recommend jumping to the end to find the identity of the killer, I warn you...you’ll need a manicure after you finish this nail-biter!

Be a Big Fan!
Daniel Stallings is a fan of Golden Age detective fiction inspiring him to add his own modern twist to the genre with Sunny Side Up, the first book in the Li Johnson Mystery series. Book one was reviewed in the 2/24/18 KRL issue, and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Website — Daniel Stallings
Blog — Daniel Stallings

To enter to win a copy of Cleanup on Aisle 6, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "cleanup,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 30, 2019. US entries only, and you must be 13 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address, which will only be used to notify you if you win. 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 went 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:

Opens to author website

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. It's weird how often restaurant critics are murdered in these things. I suppose they have it coming.

    Count me in!

  2. Wow! Sounds interesting!

  3. I absolutely love the storyline for Cleanup in Aisle 6. Thank you for the opportunity to read it.

  4. Sounds like a fun read. Adding to my TBR list.

  5. This looks interesting!



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