Roxie—“The hostess lacked certain social filters and either enjoyed pushing boundaries or didn’t recognize what they were…”
Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars
Wilderness guide Crystal Rainey leads a group of college students to a private campground amidst the awe-inspiring Olympic Rain Forest. The excursion is ruined when the charming hostess Roxie is discovered standing over the land owner’s body, murder weapon in hand.
Enlisted to investigate the crime to absolve her friend, Crystal descends on the quiet city of Forks to find loggers, developers, and eco-protesters circling the property, intent on either exploiting or protecting the bastion of old-growth forest. The list of suspects is intimidating. Can Crystal find answers in a community determined to keep her in the dark?
Author Erdahl has embraced the cozy mystery genre and produced a sweet, clean mystery that is fun, confident reading. Protagonist Crystal is still faking her way through her wilderness guide gig finding gorgeous new backdrops in the Pacific Northwest of Washington and she is holding her own weight (and good-naturedly the initiations into mountain hiking). (My motorcycle buddy used to refer to the Pacific Northwest as the Great Northwet—she lived near Seattle and saw her share of rainfall.)
In this episode, we see Crystal has put in sufficient time under her belt that she is becoming more secure in her role as wilderness guide. She’s a quick study and can hold her own with the more seasoned guides, this time into the Olympic Rain Forest. Unfortunately, once arrived with her college students at the private campground where they’ll spend several days, she discovers her friend and hostess Roxie at the scene of a very fresh murder. Not good.
The power struggle for land between loggers and developers is a very real one that has been in the news off and on for decades. Years ago, riding our motorcycles south after leaving Victoria Island down the Olympic Peninsula, we came across miles of clear cut forest. The stumps and devastation was depressing to witness. Of course, logging is a gargantuan business, and the fight between the two attracts environmentalists, “tree huggers.” So the storyline hit close to home and was a familiar one.
The characters are becoming more developed, more human, complete with foibles and strong suits, and the mystery progressed at a steady pace, bringing in descriptions of the scenic area, information about the mountains, and some history with it. Easy to smell that clean mountain pine scent and revel in the blue sky (when it makes an appearance).
It’s a clever and immersive story, bits of back story eased in, this can work as a standalone. (Read my review of Book 1, Winter Takes All.) There is a building of tension and twists, scrutiny of possible perps, and I must admit I didn’t guess whodunit going into the conclusion. A great follow up to the first in the series, just the right amount of atmosphere, romance, snappy dialogue, and mystery. And while Crystal doesn’t have a dog, she has a cat named ELF (an acronism), who is becoming an integral part of the engaging characters.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Now available at your favorite retailer.
N.B. The author just posted receipt of a Five Star Award for Spring Upon a Crime from @readersfavoritecom.
Genre: #cozymystery #AmateurSleuths #WomenSleuths
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc
- ASIN : B08P87F6J1
Print Length: 213 pages
Publication Date: January 13, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.
©2021 V Williams