Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Snow Place for Murder by Diane Kelly
Series: Mountain Lodge Mysteries #3
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 24, 2023
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
International resort developer Nigel Goodwin has traveled all the way from London, England to Misty Murphy’s little corner of North Carolina and bought out the Mountaintop Lodge for the week prior to Christmas. Their intention? To pitch an exclusive new resort concept to wealthy American investors.
But locals are at odds over the idea, and when a group comes to the lodge to express their worries to Mr. Goodwin and the potential investors, a blizzard hits Beech Mountain. Like the weather outside, things quickly get frosty, and Misty has to call local police to intervene. Handyman Rocky Crowder plows the lodge’s drive and, in an attempt to regain a jovial holiday atmosphere, smooths the snow pile into a makeshift sledding hill for the guests to enjoy.
Misty’s boys have finished their exams and are “home” from college for the winter break, planning to spend most of their time snowboarding at the ski resort. While taking a few runs down Rocky’s sledding hill, they discover a funny-looking, nose-shaped rock. Only it’s not a rock. It’s the frozen nose of Nigel Goodwin, who’s found dead and buried under the mound of snow.
Returning to the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountain town setting and the cozy comfort of Misty’s inn for a new seasonal mystery was an anticipated reading experience for me and I was not disappointed.
Snow Place for Murder is the third installment in the Mountain Lodge cozy mystery series. Each book can be read standalone and, in fact, I started with book two and did just fine.
Misty hosts a family Thanksgiving for her ex and two college age sons, JJ and Mitch, her new boyfriend, Rocky, and his daughter. A good time was had by all. JJ and Mitch stay on to help Misty at the lodge while her assistant takes a long holiday break. The lodge is hosting an international resort developer who is the new owner of a nearby patch of land he plans to turn into a resort, his wife, assistant, and his potential investor guests. First, a local group of protestors who, for their various reasons, don’t want the land developed into a resort and then the murder of Nigel, the developer, turn the cozy mountain holidays into a murder investigation.
After reading, A Trip With Trouble, I was positively impressed with Diane Kelly’s writing, the setting, the characters, and her mystery plot so I wanted to keep going with the series. Like that book, Snow Place for Murder took some time to develop the ongoing relationships and give a wonderful seasonal feel starting with the family Thanksgiving. It might seem there would be some drama since Misty hosted her ex and kids with her boyfriend and one of his kids, but she had an amicable divorce after the kids were grown, and a careful slow burn romance with Rocky, her boyfriend and handyman.
The story then changed gears and it was time for Misty, Rocky, and her sons to go to work hosting a group for a week at the lodge. A blizzard sets in adding atmosphere when the mystery part of the story gets going. The pacing stays steady and slower as an observant Misty works with the police sharing what she has seen and heard, using her position to subtly question suspects and witnesses, and follow a moderately twisting path to the reveal. I do like how Misty works with law enforcement and duly considers her actions.
The conclusion with the family Christmas and the hot tub Rocky put in to improve the lodge’s appeal was the perfect satisfying finish to a holiday cozy mystery. I enjoyed being back in the Blue Ridge with Misty and the others and will be continuing with the series. I invite you to join me.
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