Monday, October 19, 2015

Diner Knock Out by Terri L. Austin | Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway

Terri L. Austin is back, with Diner Knock Out,
the fourth book in the Rose Strickland Mystery series from Henery Press.

The Blurb

Rose Strickland’s life is complicated. Besides her waitressing gig, she works part-time for Andre Thomas, a PI with no faith in Rose’s ability to investigate, her love life with Sullivan has stalled, and her BFF, Roxy, has found a new bestie, leaving Rose out in the cold.

Determined to prove herself, Rose takes a case on the sly. As she searches for a missing MMA fighter, Rose discovers an illegal fight club, a group of ruthless businessmen, dead bodies, and a trail of drugs.

Hunting down clues that lead too close to home, Rose finds herself in the fight of her life. Can she beat the killer to the punch before she gets knocked out for good?

Diner Knock Out 
by Terri L. Austin

Series: The Rose Strickland Mysteries, #4
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Paperback: 302 pages
ISBN-10: 1943390096
ISBN-13: 978-1943390090
e-Book File Size: 825 KB
ASIN: B012B59QM4

 The Review

I just read an amazing book, y'all — Diner Knock Out by Terri L. Austin. Let me tell you a little about this knock-out of a cozy mystery. 

Diner Knock Out is the fourth book in Author Terri L. Austin's Rose Strickland Mystery series. I have previously reviewed the other books in the series: Book #1, Diners, Dives & Dead Ends; Book #2, Last Diner Standing; Book #3, Diner Impossible; #3.5, Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers, a novella in  Heartache Motel.

Diner Knock Out can be read as a stand-alone, as far as the mysteries contained therein are concerned. But to really understand all of the characters, their interactions with each other, and the references to past occurrences, you really should begin at the beginning of the series. 

The main character in Diner Knock Out is Rose Strickland. She is the formerly-pampered younger daughter of a wealthy, upper-class couple in Huntingford, Missouri. I say "formerly," because almost six years ago, Rose took a stand against her parents' wishes concerning the women's college they had chosen for her. Rose refused to return for her sophomore year, wanting to transfer to a different college where she would be happier. As a result of this rebellion, her parents kicked her out of their house, and cut off all financial support. After Rose found a job, waitressing at Ma's Diner, and somewhere to live, in a dinky studio apartment, she enrolled in Huntingford's community college as a part-time student. She has been taking a class or two each semester for the past six years, until now. 

At the end of Diner Impossible, Rose is approached by another character with an intriguing proposal. Police Officer Andre Thomas (whom she referred to as "Officer Hard Ass"), has just resigned from the force to become a private investigator. He invites Rose to work part-time for him as an apprentice P.I., during the two years it will take before she can get her own P.I. license. Rose accepts the offer, and will take the summer off from school while she only works at Ma's Diner and the Thomas Detective Agency.

The agency case that Rose and Thomas are working on, as he trains her in "police procedure," concerns Ted Benson, the husband of their client Camilla Benson. Camilla thinks that her husband is cheating on her, and has hired the agency to find out for sure. I love how this case turns out! I think you'll be very surprised at how Ted cheats. It certainly surprised me.

Rose's big case concerns Rob, the MMA fighter, and fight clubs. When Rose is alone in the office, she misrepresents herself as Andre's associate (rather than an apprentice, only able to work under his direct supervision) to a new client who comes in with a missing person case, and agrees to take the case. The client admits he can't afford their fee, but Rose still agrees. When Rob's girlfriend tells Rose 
You can't say anything about the club. Not to anyone. The men in charge are serious about keeping it a secret. By even discussing it, we could all be in danger.           
Rose almost tells Andre then about the case. 

It's really lucky for Rose that Andre steps in when he does. Just imagine the fireworks when Hard Ass Thomas finds out that Rose has taken on this case — a pro bono case, passing herself off as his associate, no less. 

I enjoyed watching Rose try to solve these mysteries, with all the twists and turns in the case, and encounter some rather odd people along the way. (By the way, if you're ever offered a bottle of water containing fermented birch sap, I'd advise you to turn it down. Rose says it tastes disgusting.) The suspense and the plot twists make Diner Knock Out fast-paced and a quick read. 

Author Terri L. Austin's zany, quirky characters and their antics make Diner Knock Out a fun read. For example, the utter chaos, devastation, and destruction in the diner caused by a team of Little Leagers is unbelievable — and hilarious.

Rose's bestie and fellow waitress, Roxy, has a new BFF, which leaves Rose feeling jealous and left out. Roxy is rather unconventional. She has blue hair (not pale blue, but more like cobalt blue) and she often dresses in baby-doll style with ribbons, ruffles, and sashes. Roxy's new friend is Sugar  Sugar de la Tarte — who is almost as colorful and unconventional as Roxy. Sugar is a burlesque dancer with a pinup girl figure, and wears tight 1940s-style dresses to emphasize her assets. 

The scene when Rose and Roxy discuss their (former?) BFF status, and Roxy's reasons for finding a new BFF, is sweet and poignant.

Ma is trying to catch a man, a new widower whose wife has just passed. Ma, almost eighty years old, figures that she has been alone long enough since her husband died. Ma must work quickly, because Byron's "a looker" and "relatively healthy — a pacemaker and a bum knee." 
All the widows in town will be making a play for him.
For bait, she is using her specialty chicken dish, Chicken a la Ma, a new bra (pushup, in black lace), and chocolate lava cake. Ma has stiff competition, though, in the much-younger Sally Dawkins (only 62). The outcome of this struggle for Byron's attention is quite amusing. I wonder if Ma means what she says. 
As you can see, Rose, her friends, and her co-workers at Ma's Diner are so much fun to read about. I enjoy reading about their hijinks, capers, and adventures, just as much as the mysteries. Author Terri L. Austin has created a cast of unique, likable, distinctive people, ones whom I love to visit with, in each new Diner entry in the Rose Strickland Mysteries.   

I highly recommend Terri L. Austin's Diner Knock Out to all cozy mystery fans, especially those of us who have a thing about bad-boy book-boyfriends. Diner Knock Out is fun, entertaining, and unique  all in all, a great read. 

Terri L. Austin's Diner Knock Out has earned our highest rating of Five Kitties

Five out of five kitties
Note:  I received a complimentary copy of Diner Knock Out in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

 Follow the tour, to read other reviews plus Author Guest Posts and Author Interviews!

 The Author

About Terri L. Austin

As a girl, Terri L. Austin thought she’d outgrow dreaming up stories and creating imaginary friends. Instead, she’s made a career of it. She met her own Prince Charming and together they live in Missouri. 

She loves to hear from readers. Visit her website and drop her a note at

Find Terri on the web at

The Giveaway

Terri will award five print copies of Heartache Motel,
which contains Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers, #3.5, 
to five randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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