Snowed In with Murder by Auralee Wallace is the 3rd book in the Otter Lake Mystery series.
Take a classic mystery opening (a group of connected people with a murderer in their midst), add an isolated setting (an island in New Hampshire), swirl in a frightening nor’easter, and top it off with an estranged romantic couple, and you have Snowed in with Murder.
I haven’t read Auralee Wallace’s two earlier Otter Island mysteries, but it’s not difficult to catch up. Off-and-on islander Erica Bloom has come home to see if she can fan the embers of her cooled-off romance with Sheriff Grady Forrester. Erica is sure that grilled steaks and glowing flames in an intimate island setting will pave the way for reconciliation with Sheriff Grady. What could go wrong?
To start with, Erica’s mother is nowhere to be found on the island. Instead, the island lodge is teeming with strangers—strangers who seem to have their own camera crew. Ordinarily, the lodge is shut down for the season in the fall, so this is highly unusual. Something else that is highly unusual (or perhaps not in New Hampshire): the weather. Erica is surprised—but not too surprised—by the darkening forecast.
I knew I should’ve worn my parka. Stupid March. Oh sure, spring was just around the corner, but no one could tell you with any certainty where that corner might be, especially not in Otter Lake, New Hampshire.
Of course, what Erica is hoping for—rather than cold mud and lots of it—is an opportunity for “snuggling under a blanket with a hot, hot sheriff waiting for better weather to come.” We can’t always get what we want, though, can we?
Erica makes her way to her mother’s island retreat, only to discover no mother and instead a reality TV cast and crew well on their way to manufactured drama with a capital D. Erica is truthfully a little worried. She asks her old pal Grady for help: “You should check on me. I might perish all alone in the elements. Caesar gnawing on my frozen corpse.”
But unfortunately, Grady simply suggests she shepherd her unexpected crew to the mainland. By any measure, driving, blinding snow is unnerving. Imagine how much more so if there’s an inexplicable death, possibly even a murder. Snow blindness combined with reality television, what could be worse? Erica certainly thinks so.
Oh no, I thought. Here we go. I had seen enough of this show to know what was going to happen next. This was going to be a rehashing of every bit of family drama that had ever happened. They would scream and argue and probably throw some drinks. And it would all be about ridiculous stuff, like The color of the car you bought hurt my feelings! Or There were three pictures of so and so on the mantel and only one picture of me!
It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for Erica. She reaches out to her friend Rhonda at the sheriff’s office after discovering someone has sabotaged her generator (seriously, what could be more dreadful during a nor’easter than to lose your backup power source?) only to be brutally shot down.
“Dead body, Rhonda! Dead body at the retreat!”
A half-second of silence passed before she said, “Say what now?”
I shook my head frantically … at nobody. “Dead body at the retreat.”
“Really?” she asked, her voice rising in pitch. “Again? Man, they don’t call you Erica Doom for nothing.”
Erica Doom? Perhaps Erica truly is doomed. Snowed in with Murder pays homage to classic Agatha Christie mysteries where everyone is in situ and no one escapes alive. Perhaps a slight exaggeration … but Erica “Doom” Bloom is trapped on an island with a killer and no rescuer in sight.
Auralee Wallace’s third Otter Lake Mystery is the perfect escape when winter weather blows and blusters.
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Janet Webb aka @janetnorcal has unpredictable opinions on books. Season ticket holder of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on the books of Helen MacInnes, Mary Stewart, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anne Perry ... I'm always looking for a great new mystery series.
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