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Showing 1-10 of 746 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 814 reviews
on November 26, 2012
I wanted to like this more than I did. Well-written, and the sort of light mystery I usually like... but the characters drove me nuts. The main characters were very "gosh gee whillikers" about it all. The heroine is engaged to a police officer--he tells her "Promise me you won't do X," and she promises, and then immediately does X. And he's fine with that. Hmmm. Good luck with that marriage. It strained credulity that the police would really be OK with the girlfriend showing up and taking part in things all the time, too. The side characters are all "characters" with "quirks," but it comes off as too forced to me. So overall, not great, but also not terrible.
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on May 18, 2015
The fact that this title is so well reviewed is proof positive of the low literacy level of most readers today. This book is so full of typos, grammatical errors, lousy punctuation and missing words, it's clear that the manuscript was never edited. It's too bad, because Dahlke's writing is engaging, but the mistakes are so prevalent, I couldn't read past 20%. Also, within the first 15%, there were so many glaring inconsistencies, I couldn't stand it any longer. Example, "She took another sip of the water." (There was no indication Nancy had been given any water.) Example: "I wanted first crack at the answers, and it had taken every ounce of control ... to keep me from firing them." (Lalla would have fired questions, not answers.) As another reviewer so accurately put it, if you love amateurish writing, this one is for you. Personally, I'm returning it for a refund.
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on September 28, 2016
Lalla Baines has her hands full; she’s planning her wedding to Caleb Stone, the county sheriff, keeping her dad’s crop dusting business going, dealing with her aunt wanting to barbecue her dad’s pet goat, and her man-hungry cousin with her eyes on her top pilot; and, that’s just the start of her day. A new pilot turns out to be a CPA on the run from a Vegas hit man, and then has the misfortune to drop dead at a barbecue at her dad’s house. When his wife is tabbed as the main suspect, Lalla is sure she’s innocent, but no one seems to agree, so it’s left to her to prove the woman’s innocence and catch the killer. Unfortunately, the killer has other intentions, and it involves killing Lalla.
Dead Red Oleander by R. P. Dahlke is a fast-paced mystery with lots of action and a Texas-sized dose of humor. There are so many suspects in this story, you almost have to keep a list to keep them sorted out. But, Lalla is a determined sleuth who, with the surprising assistance of her cousin, Pearlie—she of the wandering eye—doesn’t stop until she gets her man.
You’ll be hooked on this story from page one, and won’t want to stop reading until you get to the end. The ending will leave you breathless.
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on March 7, 2015
I have never been a fan of the plot device of beginning a book in the middle, when the lead character is in some dire situation, and then after a few riveting pages, abandoning that scenario to jump back to the (relatively) boring "six weeks earlier" to get on with the long process of setting up for that middle. It's sort of like being in the midst of really great foreplay and then abruptly halting to go out to dinner and a movie. If the only way an author can grab the reader's attention is by starting the book in the middle, then why not just start the book in the middle and work from there? Given the disjointed feel of the book, I read the first 4 pages with great interest, and then slogged through about 20 of the "six weeks earlier" setup and character introduction before deciding it wasn't worth it to get to the good part in the middle. It seemed like the writing was pretty good, and if I didn't already know what was coming I might have stayed with it. Based on the reviews, a lot of people either like or don't mind this device; this review is just my opinion.
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on August 9, 2012
A Dead Red Oleander, by R. P. Dahlke; is both funny, and serious, an altogether good read. In this book, Lalla Bains, an aero-ag pilot (crop duster) seems to find her way into more than a field of pesky bugs. At the opening of A Dead Red Oleander we find Lalla in a sizzling, hot, cotton field, laying underneath her Dad's old pickup, handcuffed to the frame. So, what's up with that? That's what a California State Trooper wants to know.

Backtracking reveals events happening fast and furious, starting with a newly hired pilot, with the unlikely name of Dewey Treat, dying without preamble at Lalla's prenuptial hot dog roast. Did the wife kill him with a poisonous oleander stick? Why did Mad Dog, the other aero-ag pilot, bring a stranger to that party? And, what did the stranger know about the dead man?

Lalla takes it on herself to find out the secrets that surround the dead Dewey Treat; and the wife who isn't what she seems. It leads her into a frantic fracas of car wrecks, attempted kidnapping, dead bodies, and explosions. Sharing her harrowing adventures is wedding guest, Cousin Pearlie, a crack pilot with a penchant for romance. Did I mention she carries a gun? Add an eccentric Texas Granny, a grumpy Dad, his goat, Billy, and his girlfriend Shirley. Mix it up with a Federal agent, and don't forget the bridegroom, Caleb, who just happens to be the county sheriff. He's not only interested in solving the tangle of who's killing whom, and why, he's struggling to keep Lalla alive long enough to be his bride.

It's safe to say, if you like Janet Evanovich, you'll love R.P. Dahlke. It's the same breezy, quick action style, with unforgettable characters and a strong, female lead. Only I personally think Lalla Bains has a little more going for her than Stephanie Plum. Just my opinion.
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on May 6, 2014
This was a delightful book to read. I enjoyed it so much, that I was sorry to see the end of it. The suspects were more than worthy of suspicion. Living in one of the town's mentioned, made me laugh, because I could definitely see it happening here in Fresno. The characters were real in their looks, and attitudes, and just as convoluted in their thinking, and rationalization of their reasons for doing what they did. The main. Character,Lalla Bain , is engaged to the county sheriff, who is frustrated with keeping her safe, which leads to some anger from him, but knows he still loves her and wants to marry her.., which is an endearing quality. She doesn't really want to get involved with murder, but feels she has to, in order for the crimes to be solved. Her loving, but crazy family are there offering opinions, and help, making her worry about their safety, more than her own. She is impulsive, one of the things her fiancee is aware of, and is designed to. There is a lighter side in this story, that works well, with the dark. Just as well as the sun works with the moon, and is welcomed in this type of story.
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on November 16, 2015
It's not quite 'Stephanie Plum' funny and it's not 'Bosch' noir. It's somewhere in the middle, which makes you want to look for the humorous pratfalls when a killer barges into the heroine's kitchen. Except there aren't any and somebody gets killed. Locating the story in the northern end of the Central Valley of California gives opportunities for new landscapes and situations. But as a California girl, I questioned why peaches would still be on trees in September (most are gone by July), what kind of pruning would be going on in the orchards at the same time (most pruning of fruit trees happens in February), and what seed crops need to be sown by airplane during the same month. Maybe all of this is correct, but it just didn't fit my memories of how California farming works in the Central Valley. The introduction of 2 Texans, aunt and cousin, added to the humor side but they were stick figures of gun-totin', cattle-raisin' hellions. I didn't think the story needed them at all. Overall, I wasn't excited enough about the main character to bother with another book.
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on December 3, 2016
This is tough to review. I've read a few Lalla Baines stories and, for the most part, they've been enjoyable. Oleander was a struggle. It started out great, very strong. Prologue sucked me right in. It was pretty engrossing for several chapters, then the pacing seemed to be off and there were sudden changes in location of the scenes. I often had to flip back in order to find out where the characters were and exactly who was in each scene. But, the story kept me flipping the page. (I'm a big fan of the Lalla character). But, once the "Texas relatives" showed up, dialect began to be a little annoying. When native Californians began speaking with the same mannerisms as the Texans, I ignored that as much as I could and kept reading. Then around the 75-80% mark, the entire story line fell apart, the characters lost their identities and went flat, and it stayed that way until the end. The ending was a bit too far fetched as well. Definitely needs a good proof reader or editor to help make this a five star read. Not sure if I'll finish the series.
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on August 20, 2014
Lalla is tall, blonde and has a knack for getting herself into eensy weensy jams that often turn out to be monstrous calamities of a personal nature. This tale starts out with a bang. Lalla Bains, a crop-dusting part owner, operator is found shackled underneath her Dad's ancient pick-up truck in a cotton field. Then the story backs up to the beginning so all the blanks can be filled in for the reader.

Lalla's nutso relatives arrive from Texas to help with the preparations for Lalla's upcoming wedding to local sheriff, Caleb Stone. This will be Lalla's third try at matrimony. Her great auntie Eula Mae, is a 90 year old somewhat overbearing Texas rancher. Great Auntie's granddaughter, Pearlie, is Lallah's quirky cousin. The duo add a great deal of frustration to the Bains' already hectic daily lifestyle. Of course the whole Bains clan is not exactly a typical American clan. Lalla's dad has a new sidekick named Bruce. When the going gets touchy, Dad grabs Bruce the goat's leash and off they go for a walk together. Well, who says you can only walk a dog on a leash?

Lalla's dad has decided to sell the family crop dusting business at the end of the season. They are short-handed and hire a highly recommended pilot to complete the season. His name is Dewey Treat, and he seems a bit wimpy to be a crop dusting pilot. But hey, he seems to have the qualifications in spite of name and appearances. At the annual barbecue, he keels over dead. The immediate consensus is that he died of a heart attack. His young widow soon declares Dewey's death was not a heart attack, but murder. She remembers that there were not enough hotdog sticks for everyone at the barbecue so she used an oleander one. Um, did she poison her husband? Things go downhill fairly rapidly, and the widow is arrested on suspicion of murder. She declares her innocence. Lalla believes her to be innocent and decides to find proof of whodunit.

Trouble seems to follow Lalla around, and she does not do much to push it away. She makes promises to Caleb that she will not try to solve the most current homicide; however, she never seems to keep her promise. Surprisingly, while tailing a murder suspect, Perlie's and Lalla's vehicle gets the vehicle they have been following! Both of them walk away from the accident with some bruises, both physical and egoistical. Lalla doesn't look like she will be a beautiful bride. Perlie and Lalla are not easily deterred.

For those who like a bit of suspense there are a few murders, almost murder, an attempted kidnapping, and a stabbing. Some unrealistic humor is thrown in for those looking for a few laughs.

It is a book that obviously delighted many readers. I found it to be just an okay book. I found the character's names and antics to be a bit hokey. Even with all the "sugah" from Texas, I found that I trudged my way through much of the book. It is light reading and somewhat of a fairly short mystery.
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on November 13, 2015
After reading so many books about aliens, monsters and horror, I thought I'd read something different, and boy was I pleasantly surprised. The geographical area where the story takes place is quite familiar to me, so as I read the book, it was easy for my minds eye to imagine exactly how things looked, and the people in the story also remind me of people I know or knew growing up. I was a logger in the Sierras east of Modesto, and now live in the Bay Area, which caused me to pass through the area on a regular basis, and I can still remember the crop dusters flying along the road right alongside me and spraying the crops, they seemed to be quite talented, and I don't know why but the familiarity of the place and background of the story made the book even better. As for Lalla Bains, she is awesome, way down to earth, and comes across as someone even I might know, and so are the other characters in the book. The book was easy to read, easy to root for the good people, entertaining from the first page to the last, and that's how books are supposed to be. Although she is a fictitious character, I kind of had a crush on Lalla Bains by the end of the book, as she seems to be a never-a-dull-moment kind of girl, but loyal to a fault, and very loving as well, and after a couple of wives and a bunch of girlfriends, she seems to be what dreams and good books are made of , too perfect to be real. Now I can't wait to read the rest of her adventures, but slowly like fine wine.
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