Vicki of Reading At The Beach hosts A-Z Wednesday. Today’s letter is R.

I’m going back to one I read in 2007. There are only three books in this series, but I loved all of them. Kooky characters and an out of the usual mystery always draw me in.

The Red Hot Empress by Meredith Blevins

Annie Szabo returns with another bizarre cast of characters as murder and mayhem ring in the Chinese New Year in San Francisco. Annie Szabo has discovered a miracle: Jimmy Qi, a kid from Chinatown with the power to heal using music. He’s dazzling, he’s a scoundrel, he’s wise, and he makes a great newspaper article. Now everyone wants Jimmy. Feeling responsible for creating San Francisco’s latest hot commodity, Annie enlists her mother-in-law, the audacious fortune-teller Madame Mina, to help keep Jimmy safe from his avid pursuers: an evangelist, an ex-hero with a troubled past, a tong society, a CDC doctor, a dolphin fanatic, and an FBI agent who seems too good to be true. Then the bodies start turning up. Annie grabs Jimmy and runs, luring the killer through a tangle of Chinese New Year celebrations and north up the deserted coast where she forces the killer to face justice.

Once again, though the spicy Szabo women would like to kick back with a lover, a good movie, and a few laughs, life has something else in mind. One meeting with an extraordinary boy leads them headlong into another wild adventure. Annie and Mina won’t back down until their world is set right. (

The first two in the series are great, too.

  1. The Hummingbird Wizard
  2. The Vanished Priestess

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