"Birthdays are Murder" By Cindy Sample: Review/Giveaway

 Review by Cynthia Chow

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

After nearly getting arrested for murder on the cruise ship where she worked as the cruise director, Sierra Sullivan was furloughed and found herself moving to Spindrift Cove, Washington, to be closer to her daughter. It’s been challenging for the former entertainer to find work even near the Hollywood North known as Vancouver, which is why Sierra is at a children’s birthday party subbing in as a last-minute replacement Elsa. An inadvertent wig malfunction sends her into the homeowner’s home, where she has a post-coital run-in with the host Derek Davenport and a woman who is definitely not his wife. The awkwardness only escalates when she finds the body of Davenport in the bounce house, dead with the DNA scratch marks Sierra left on the predatory man’s arm. As much as Sierra hoped to spend time with her daughter, having Melanie being one of the responding police officers was probably not the best way to go about it.
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Sierra had hoped that moving into her daughter and son-in-law’s detached apartment would mend their somewhat strained relationship, but now it looks as though she may be jeopardizing Melanie's career. When Melanie is removed from the investigation due to a conflict of interest, Sierra makes it her mission to not only prove her innocence but reinstate her daughter back as a rising detective. Melanie’s frustration and warnings to her mother to not interfere are gradually worn down by Sierra’s good-intentions, especially when it looks as though the investigation is being corrupted by sexist officials. Determined to put her acting skills to good use while solving a murder, Sierra is helped by her daughter’s enthusiastic mother-in-law and an undeniably appealing caterer.

Readers will remember Sierra from her first appearance in the Laurel McKay mystery Dying for a Diamond, where Laurel prevented her cousin from being railroaded into a conviction for theft and murder. Here Sierra takes the lead as a resilient detective helping her daughter while finding a fulfilling career for herself. The promise of romance is just a bonus although it does make the trial of auditioning for local theater productions a little less stressful. Sierra wavers between being a protective mother and being someone looking for the grown-ups in charge, meaning that she is extraordinarily relatable and sympathetic. Equally as realistic is Melanie’s frequent exasperation with her mother, especially when Sierra attempts to be the Mom at the police station. This is such a fun and funny start of a new series, one that takes advantage of the northern Washington setting and its eclectic mix of entitled and quirky characters. Sierra’s humor and skills as an entertainer make her a unique and exuberant amateur detective, one whose next adventures can’t come soon enough.  

To enter to win an ebook copy of Birthdays are Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "birthdays,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 19, 2022. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. 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 just went up.

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

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).
 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. Sample should be much better known! Count me in!

  2. This sounds like a fun book. Thanks for the giveaway. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the chance.

  4. Thanks for this giveaway. I love Cindy's books. So funny!


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