"No Mistaking Death" by Shelley Costa: Review/Giveaway

Review by Terrance McArthur

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

There’s a body in the old, locked building. The police aren’t sure who, how, or why the man is there. When Marian Warner arrives in town, she steps into a web of mystery in Shelley Costa’s intricate novel No Mistaking Death.

Marian is a private detective, but she fills out her caseload by doing investigations given to her by her half-sister, a Department of Commerce bureaucrat. This latest investigation brings her to Carthage, Ohio on a job for the National Park Service. They need her to find out if Carthage is the home of the first Jesuit chapter house in the state, and then worthy of National Historic Landmark status—or not—and why the file has so many angry letters for and against its approval.

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The other reason she’s in Carthage is because Charlie, her old platonic flame, is the editor of the local newspaper. Marian and Charlie never went further because she was haunted by the memory of a radical love who perished in the explosion of a bomb-making apartment.

Marian interviews both sides of the chapter house controversy:

·         The historical society’s president, who loves her town’s history and wants it recognized

·         The developer who wants to tear the old eyesore down to make way for a power utility expansion

·         The construction company owner who is a preservationist, saving landmark buildings in the area

·         The lovely Carthage-born singer who returned from the road and is now involved with Charlie

·         The dog trainer who wants to hire Marian to help her clear the way for the chapter house’s application to be approved.

·         The handyman who found the body and never answers Marian’s messages

Lies and subterfuge abound. Was the dead man murdered, or did he die of natural causes? Is the building historical, or is it just old? And then there is another body.

Costa’s narrative twists and turns, piling surprises and revelations in a fast and furious manner, pulling the reader in, never releasing the tension. The author of an Italian Restaurant Mystery series, her all-pervading theme is “good person struggling.”

Although this is the first in a new mystery series, some characters enter as old acquaintances, with easy banter, as if you should have known these people for ages. At the end, truths are revealed, lies are exposed, relationships are uncovered, and the readers close the cover, exhausted and wondering if the people around them are hiding secrets.

It can be a cruel world out there.

To enter to win a copy of No Mistaking Death (print or ebook winner's choice), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line ",mistaking” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 30, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. 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 goes up next week.

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:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is newly retired as a Librarian in Fresno County, California. He is also a storyteller, puppeteer, magician, and maker of pine needle baskets. On top of that he writes stories that range from rhymed children's tales to splatterpunk horror. He's an odd bird, but he's nice to have around.
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. This sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. the fight between preservationist and those
    who just want to tear down is an ongoing thing.
    Sounds like an interesting story. thanks

  3. Sounds like another good book. Looking forward to reading the book.

  4. New author for me, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

  5. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham


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