Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Book Review: Open for Murder by Mary Angela (Happy Camper Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great location, fun plot, and characters
Cons: Motives early on are weak (but get better)
The Bottom Line:
A grand opening
Also invited murderer
In series debut

Opening Weekend Features Murder

I’m always on a lookout for a cozy with a different hook, so I was immediately attracted to the Happy Camper Mysteries by Mary Angela.  The main character owns a souvenir shop in the Black Hills area of South Dakota.  It sounded like fun to me, so I picked up the first in the series, Open for Murder.

As this book opens, Zo Jones is thrilled to have her good friend, Beth Everett, back in the area.  Beth visited her aunt in the town of Spirit Canyon every summer for years, and the two were inseparable when she was in town.  Beth is back with her family to reopen the lodge that her aunt owned.  After renovating it, Beth is ready to reopen it Memorial Day weekend.

The opening night party with the first guests is cut short by a thunderstorm, but the following morning, a dead body is found in one of the guest rooms.  The woman owned competing lodges in the area, and had even offered Beth money to shut down her lodge.  With the police looking at Beth as their prime suspect, Zo calls on her days as a reporter to try to figure out what really happened.  Can she do it?

As I said, the setting is something that appealed to me, and it delivered in spades.  I have yet to visit South Dakota, although I want to.  This book made me want to visit even more.  Plus, Zo’s shop is one I’d definitely love to visit.  The souvenirs sound so appealing.  Heck, I’d probably wind up spending more than I should on the stuff she sells.

The book spends a couple of chapters introducing us to Zo, Beth, and others who will be regulars before we meet the suspects and victim, but as soon as the victim walks on to the page, we know who it is will be.  The mystery was good with several suspects to keep us guessing.  I’ll admit, I felt some of the motives were weak early on, but the further we got into the book, the more fleshed out motives became, which I appreciated.

Likewise, the characters grew on me.  They definitely still have room to grow, but that is often the case with a first book in a series.  The suspects were as real as the series regulars.

While this isn’t a culinary cozy, we do get a receive for a S’more brownie at the end.  Yum!  They sound absolutely delicious.

Open for Murder introduces us to a promising new series set in a great location.  If you are open to a new series, you should definitely check this one out.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

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