Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her New Year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.
Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With her handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.
But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.
This one throws the cuteness arrow right off the high side of the scale. First, the premise that Crystal Rainey could cut out on her dead-end office job (oh groan–so been there/done that–but never had the guts to do more) and answer an ad for a wilderness guide. In the Great Northwet?? Are you kidding me? (Do you really want to die?) Bears–okay–so they are hibernating in the winter. But the cold? Bone-chilling, popsicle-fingers, breath-freezing air temps…gulp. Yeah, you have to dress for it and if done right, would be impossible to tell if you’re male or female. No problem! She can certainly tell Conner Oaks just by the confident way he handles that white stuff. (Snow, people.)
Thank heaven Conner knows what he is doing and is quick to see a green-horn when he sees one, but hey, she has potential in her earnestness and willingness to succeed and she’s adorable. But on the first outing, this corporate retreat snowshoe hike to an alpine chalet might present more than one challenge. What about the owner’s death? True, he was a creep of the first order. Still, his body is out there, frozen. And not an accident. She must solve the murder before this whole dream becomes a nightmare. Go back to that job? 9-5? Oh hell no!
The thing about cozy mysteries, however, is that there is so much plausible deniability you’ve come to expect. Swallow your disbelief that a clerical city employee could bluff her way through the interview, and having been hired by a head-hunter frantically trying to fill a vacancy, would prepare her physically for hiking in sub-zero temps loaded with heavy clothing. Or handling snowshoes. Comely Connor is too free to be and too quickly steps up as romantic interest–how was he not married with six kids already? And that the cops’ lack of serious interest in a remote area murder would have allowed an amateur sleuth to interrogate interview suspects or have the wherewithal to research corporate employees is a bit of a stretch.
Crystal is an engaging character with whom it’s easy to follow in her innate fresh naiveté that she has turned into a bulldog. Connor is just who he represents himself to be. Let’s see where these two go in Book 2, which I have on good authority will happen. In the meantime, if you are looking for a cozy with a whole different backdrop, winter mountain activities and engaging characters, Erdahl has captured that with an entertaining book you’ll keep reading just for the sweet factor alone. And it’s a fun and fast mystery.
Genre: Cozy Mysteries
Publisher: ML Erdahl
Print Length: 274 pages
Listening Length: 7 hrs 31 mins.
Narrator: Amy Langdon
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Free offer direct from the author (Thank you!)
Title Link: Winter Takes All
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
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. Follow the author on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The Narrator: Amy Langdon
©2020 V Williams