Deep in the heart of touristy small-town Spirit Canyon, South Dakota, former journalist Zo Jones runs the Happy Camper gift shop, where she sells everything from locally made souvenirs to memorabilia. She even rents out mountain bikes, and dabbles in the adventure industry—and sleuthing . . .
It’s Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon, and for Zo that means the return of summer shoppers. It also means the return of her good friend Beth, who’s moved back to the area to reopen her family’s premier hotel, Spirit Canyon Lodge. Beth and Zo spent many childhood summers there and Zo can’t wait to reconnect and celebrate the Grand Opening. But the festivities go from bad to worse when a power outage knocks out the lights—and morning reveals a competitor’s dead body found on the premises . . .
Soon enough, Beth is the prime suspect in the suspicious death. Fortunately, Zo isn’t afraid to put her investigative skills to work and prove her friend’s innocence. To start digging for information, she appeals to Max Harrington, a local Forest Ranger and unlikely ally. Though they’ve argued about Happy Camper’s tours, in this case they agree on one thing: Beth isn’t a murderer. Stranger things have happened than their collaboration. After all, this is Spirit Canyon. But as the list of suspects grows, Zo will have to keep her guard up if she doesn’t want to be the next lodge guest to check out . . .
Good rainy day mystery
Interesting setting, characters and lots of misdirection Back stories are revealed but not completely
Genre fitting and likable characters
Kinda wish this was a Hallmark murder mysteries special, I know who I would cast fit each of these parts!
Excellent new series with a gorgeous setting
The series has an independent and intelligent heroine, Zo, who is really likable and fun. Naturally, I am curious about the possibility of a future relationship between her and Max, a park ranger. The mystery itself has a great cast of suspicious characters and lots of red herrings to distract us from the truth.
What I think makes the series extra special is Mary Angela’s full realization of the Black Hills setting. She includes gorgeous nature descriptions, as well as specific details about the town of Spirit Canyon that really brought the place alive for me. Honestly, I really wish I could plan a South Dakota vacation right now!
This book also made me hungry! Much of the story takes place over Memorial Day Weekend, so there is talk of barbecues, potato salads, and a type of food event I had never heard of: a chuckwagon. I was extremely excited when I got to the end of the book and saw a recipe for s’mores bars. I will be making those soon for sure!
I encourage all cozy mystery lovers to read Mary Angela’s books, both the Happy Camper series and the Professor Prather series. I enjoy her writing style and I look forward to reading more from her!