Molehills + Frizzy Hair + PoPo = Chaos Raina Style!

Raining Men and Corpses #1
Raina Sun series
Anne R. Tan
Kindle edition, 207 pages, self-pub, Mar 23, 2014
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:
A contemporary humorous mystery set in the fictitious small college town of Gold Springs, California. Raina Sun is a typical graduate student trying to keep her head above water as the bills roll in from a lawsuit disputing an inheritance from her dysfunctional family. Then her dashing college adviser cons her out of several months of rent.

Her quest to get her money back sets into motion a streak of bad luck. First, she finds the dead body of an ex-lover and becomes the prime suspect in his murder. The only man she ever loved reappears as the lead detective on the case and wants to reignite their passion (or at least he’s sending out smoke signals).

Her life careens out of control as her best friend does whatever it takes to get the inside scoop for the town’s newspaper. And her grandma moves into Raina’s postage-stamp-sized apartment, dragging a red suitcase and trouble. The family secret Raina has been running away from is now staring at her across the dining room table every morning.

Raina must figure out how to extract herself before things get dicey. There is no place for an amateur when it comes to murder.

The eclectic cast of characters in this amateur sleuth mystery will have you scratching your head and laughing until the end.


Disclaimer:  I acquired Book #1 from Amazon via BookBub at a reduced price. All other books in this series were purchased at full price. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
"Oh, hi Matthew". Is that how you greet the love of your life when he suddenly pops up at a murder investigation when you're the prime suspect and he's the lead detective and you haven't seen him since he left you in Vegas with an annulment of your very brief marriage and you haven't seen him in several years? Well, Raina Sun has a lot of nerve. There's not much that intimidates her or keeps her quiet when she has something to say. You've heard the saying about "those who rush in where angels fear to tread"? That seems to fit Raina and PoPo pretty well.

The author introduced us to this main character and all her bad habits quite thoroughly, I thought. She loves to eat, which she does often whether it's out to eat a meal, stop for coffee and a pastry, eating at a friend's place, cooking for someone at her apartment, or a spoon or two in the Ben and Jerry's. Her molehills, I leave you to discover on your own. And she can't resist eavesdropping. Listening in on other's conversations is half of how she finds out what's going on in the case! It's sneaky, but it seems to work for her.

Then there's her secret weapon. PoPo is a Chinese word of respect meaning grandmother or an older woman. It can be used alone or with the woman's family name. Raina's PoPo is quite the character, and I don't mean that she's just another character in the book. She's a character with a capital C! Everyone should have a PoPo like Raina's!

The mystery developed quite slowly and I sometimes lost track of it in all the people stuff. Raina and PoPo are into people. They care about them and try to take care of the ones they love especially. They try to do the right thing, especially Raina. She's a good person who doesn't always seem to understand that bad things happen in this world.

She's smart, too, and she seems to have the edge over the local constabulary, including Inspector Matthew Louie. They all seem to stumble through this murder and solve it by following one step behind Raina as she figures it out by listening to gossip and peeking into peoples' desk drawers and kitchens. I suggest you try this first book in the series out. Who knows, it may lead you all the way to book #5, as it did me!

Gusty Lovers and Cadavers #2
Kindle edition, 245 pages, also available in paperback, May 11, 2015

GoodReads Summary
Graduate student Raina Sun thought she knew what she was getting herself into when she volunteered to take the new foreign-exchange student shopping on the last weekend before Christmas. But between a riot for the last hot toy of the season and an abandoned baby, the holiday is a season for mayhem, and sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a Good Samaritan.

Raina wants to reunite the infant with his family, but calling the mysterious phone number in the diaper bag leads to more questions than answers. A strange man claims to be the child’s father, and his alleged mother turns up dead.

The local police are more interested in keeping the town’s good name out of international news than to consider if there’s foul play. And to make matters worse, she has less than a week to find his real parents before the FBI takes over the case.

Raina summons her sleuthing skills to protect this baby and soon discovers everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. With her pimp-cane-toting grandma, she faces an ex-boyfriend bringing sexy back, and a murderer determined to hide the truth.

For readers who like fun cozy mysteries, quirky characters, and a dash of humor.


My Review:  
Again, this mystery seems to ramble among the people stuff and molehills, especially since this one has a baby involved. The police don't seem to be very involved in this one, but they show up when they're really needed. Of course, they would be more involved if someone had called them.

There's no sex in these books, just some kissing once in a while. Violence? Yes, there is violence. Quite a bit of it, but it's not graphic. As for Raina, a lot of her injuries seem to be self-imposed. Graceful and Raina don't belong in the same sentence. 

Family secrets get out and hurt people this time. This is one that needs solving since the mystery behind it needs to be answered before anyone can put the pain behind them. But the answers may be buried in China.

Breezy Friends and Bodies #3
Kindle edition, 192 pages, also available in paperback, Dec 17, 2015

GoodReads Summary:  
Raina Sun thought cleaning her grandma's house in San Francisco to prepare for Chinese New Year would be a breeze. Instead, she finds her deceased grandfather’s secret journal and ends up French kissing the train tracks in a mugging incident.

After putting the move on her grandma, her grandfather’s BFF took an elevator ride straight to the Heavenly Gates. And the second time Raina ends up flat on her back without a man in sight, she suspects the Year of the Monkey would leave her skulking in cold damp places where family secrets are better off dying with the dead.


My Review:  
Sometimes, family secrets are meant to be kept as secrets. Not this one. Raina and PoPo both know this one needs to be answered, even if people get hurt along the way. It seems that Raina will be the one to get hurt this time.

It's amazing that Raina ever has anything to wear. We hear all about her eating and the molehills, but she never seems to do laundry. She's always tripping, falling, spilling, spraying, or in some way ruining any outfit she puts on. She can go through half a dozen outfits in a day it seems. She's even borrowed a clean outfit of sorts from PoPo when she's gotten dirty on the go! 

Her life is chaotic and important things go wrong because of it, or because of her crazy family. And now she's having strange dreams. Must be the pain meds from getting mugged.

Keep going, this is only book #3...

Balmy Darlings and Deaths #4
Kindle edition, 210 pages, also available in paperback, Jun 18, 2016

GoodReads Summary:  
Raina Sun is cashing in a gift certificate for a free hairstyle from the town’s premier beauty salon and day spa. No more walking dandelion head, thank you very much. Life is on the up-and-up—until she finds an attacker holding her best friend in a headlock outside the treatment rooms.

She never thought she would spend her birthday pinned against a sweaty armpit, gagging on a mouthful of seaweed, with the attacker plucking at her best friend’s weave like a farmwife de-feathering a chicken.

When the attacker ends up six feet under, her best friend becomes the prime suspect. Raina summons her sleuthing skills to jump full-tilt into this murder investigation to clear her best friend’s name. With her stink-bomb-toting grandma and the geriatric posse, she soon discovers death is easy, and it’s the living that kills to protect the dead.


My Review:  
In this one, Raina jumps from one outrageous accident to another collecting bruises and scrapes along the way. But she's supposed to be a caretaker. Matthew's helping out with the family secret and Raina's supposed to be keeping a watchful eye on his grandmother. Landing Louie PoPo in the hospital wasn't quite what he had in mind. 

She loses her job. Loses her BFF. Is Raina losing her grip? Help comes from surprising places sometimes, but then there's always a payback to come. And these Chinese always keep a very good accounting of paybacks. But that's a worry for the future.

And so we come to book #5, which was my favorite in the series...

Sunny Mates and Murders #5
Kindle edition, 182 pages, also available in paperback, Feb 4, 2017

GoodReads Summary:  
Raina Sun thought being a fake fiance would get her closer to her deceased grandfather's journal, but instead, she finds herself in the heart of the Nine Dragons Triad, a multigenerational criminal organization. When a dead body lands on her lap, Raina must prove her fake fiancé's innocence to see the journal again. She must summon her sleuthing skills to find this conniving killer before she becomes the next victim. There's no place for an amateur when it comes to murder...

My Review:  
Well, this time she's playing with the big boys. The Triads don't take captives, they just kill people and step over the bodies. But remember there are paybacks and it's time to pay up. And it's time to get all the answers to the family secret. Two birds with one stone. How hard could it be to spend a weekend pretending to be engaged to the head of the Triad?

One body, an explosion, secret passages, what else can happen? Well, PoPo can show up and charm the guy's grandfather because they were kids together. And you know that PoPo's a loose cannon...

Well, as usual, Raina gets to the bottom of the mystery, but the explosion has destroyed all evidence of the answers to the family secret. But might her weekend fiance have read the answers before the explosion tore them away?

When all is said and done, there's a sparkling ring on her finger at the end of the weekend, but who's the lucky guy?

So that brings you up-to-date. Now, we just have to be patient. Book #6 isn't due out until September 3, 2017, Murky Passions and Scandals

Ms. Tan says she has ideas to go all the way to #12, but only immediate plans to go up to #7. How far she goes depends on reader interest. So, get to the store whether your feet or your fingers and pick up your copies of all of Raina's adventures with PoPo and find out whose sparkly ring is on her finger! Pre-Order right now on #6 is only $2.99