Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Great characters
Cons: Uneven plotting
The Bottom Line:
Remote cabin death
An uneven mystery
Saved by characters
Murder in a Blizzard
Outdoor settings don’t seem to be super popular themes for cozy mysteries. (I mean, if I gained or lost weight based on the books I’d read, I’d be in more trouble than I already am.) One of the few series trying to fill that void is the Pacific Northwest mysteries by Kate Dyer-Seeley. Slayed on the Slopes is the second book, but it has some problems.
Meg Reed has been working hard to fit in at her new job for Northern Extreme magazine, even going so far as to sign up for survival classes from the Crag Rats, a group that specializes in search and rescue. The Crag Rats are planning to start an offshoot that would offer their services as guides to those who want to climb to the summit of Mount Hood, and Meg figures that their training would make for an interesting article, so she tags along on a weekend retreat at the Silcox Hut near the top of Mount Hood.
However, when she arrives, Meg quickly finds that the group is filled with tension. Ben Rogers, who is financing the new group, has a huge ego, and none of the rest of the men like him. A blizzard hits, trapping them in the cabin, but when Meg takes a quick trip outside, she thinks she hears a gun shot. The next morning, she finds she is right when a dead body is found in the snow. Which of these outdoorsmen is a killer?
The real problem with this book is the pacing. The book starts off very slowly with some extraneous scenes that could have easily been cut. Once we arrive at the cabin, the pace picks up, and I must say the climax had my palms sweaty. However, again, the pacing was off again at the end, and that is all I will say to avoid spoiling anything.
Since the book takes place away from Portland, the author needed to work in Meg’s friends somehow, however, the way she did that felt a bit too forced. Their presence did provide for movement on a couple of threads that carried over from the first book, and they were certainly interesting. In fact, I am quite confused (in a good way) where one of these threads is going, and I really do want to know about that part of Meg’s recent past.
Because here’s the thing that is a strength for the book – the characters. I like Meg. She reminds me a bit too much of me when it comes to outdoors stuff, so I can sympathize when she gets in over her head. Her friends are a great bunch as well so I was happy to see them pop up, and I love how they have her back. The suspects were appropriately mysterious and helped keep me confused about the outcome.
The back of the book provides some survival tips as well as more detail about some of the places mentioned in the book. It’s fun to learn a bit more about this area of the country.
It’s a shame the mystery in Slayed on the Slopes isn’t stronger because I really do want to love these books. I’m curious enough about Meg’s life to pick up the next in the series; hopefully, the mystery will be stronger.