Saturday, February 4, 2012
Book Review - In The Dead of Winter by Nancy Mehl
I am a huge fan of Cozy Mysteries. For some reason they are on the top of my reading radar right now. I read Nancy's book quite a while back when I had won it on a review site. It had been long enough that I decided to re-read it this past week and weekend, and I am so glad I did.
Samantha "Ivy" Towers returns to Winter Break, Kansas, where she spent her summers as a child, to make funeral arrangements for her Aunt Bitty. While there, she begins to suspect her aunt's death, which resulted from a fall in her bookshop, wasn't an accident after all. Childhood friend Amos Parker, now sheriff of Winter Break, seems anxious to get Ivy out of town. A missing book, a message scrawled by an unknown person, and an extra coffee cup leave Ivy with more questions than answers.
Cozy mysteries have recently become my genre of choice, and books like In The Dead of Winter are exactly why.
Ivy Towers arrives in Winter Break surrounded by a whirl of snow. Weather wise it is stormy and barely an opportune time to arrive in Winter Break as Winter Break holds onto snow with every last bit of its being. Thus the delightful name that rings icily true. The main issue is of course, Ivy is arriving to handle the estate and funeral arrangements for her dear great aunt whom she hasn't seen in quite a while.
Ivy spent summers there as a youth, but now she is a college student with a semester left before taking on the world. She is headed for a new and exciting future and uses her middle name, rather than Ivy, to claim it and leave behind the uncertain girl she once was. The problem is you really can't be the new you when you bring yourself to your old stomping grounds. Ivy is now in Winter Break where the population is tiny and everyone knows everyone's story and business.
Though things should be clear cut on aunt Bitty's demise, Ivy has been left a note that causes her suspicion, and despite knowing most everyone in the small town, there is no small list of suspects. Ivy has only a few short weeks before her final semester, but she isn't heading anywhere until she knows what happened to the woman who was just like a mother to her. As Ivy searches for answers, the reader is introduced to a town that despite its overwhelming amount of snow and ice, sounds utterly delightful. Delightful even as one is searching along with Ivy for answers. Perhaps I feel this way because of the time I spent in my own icy stomping grounds in Maine and Rhode Island.
In The Dead of Winter was a much needed break from everyday for me. I enjoyed the escape into the small town of Winter Break and all its residents whose varied eccentricities made each one more interesting than the next. The place was charming which is saying a lot for a town that is situated in just such a way that winter really likes to kick it and stick around.
I am usually rather good at guessing who the murderer is in cozy mysteries, but I did not get this one right away. I enjoyed Ivy's interaction with the other townsfolk and that Ivy was an average girl next door type and not your typical obvious beauty. She was flawed like the rest of us, but with a good heart, dreamer's mind, and a small dash of insecurity. This was so much more interesting for me than some of the typical heroines you find in books. I think that might be why I like cozy mysteries so much. People are a lot more normal even though their circumstances might not be. Some parts may have been tied up a little too quickly in the end, but it did not detract from the overall story. I enjoyed it a great deal, and I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series "Bye Bye Bertie" which I have already ordered.
As I said, I won this book a long time ago and was not remotely requested to do a review. These opinions are truly my own.