Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch, Marla and Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort. A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems. Is it a coincidence that Dalton’s Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When the patriarch asks for their help in finding the culprit, Marla and Dalton eagerly accept. News of a local forest ranger’s death raises the stakes, especially when they learn the man was Raymond’s friend.
Since sleuthing comes more naturally to Marla than horseback riding, she throws herself into the investigation with her usual zest. But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet. Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds. But Raymond isn’t the only one with secrets. The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an old copper mine beneath the ghost town. She’d better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.
In this explosive tale of murder and mayhem, buried secrets surface and threaten to tear Marla’s new family apart. As the bodies pile up, Marla races to find proof that Dalton’s uncle is innocent. Or is he more involved than he wants them to believe? This adventurous mystery will have you turning pages while wondering how well you truly know your relatives.
Review: Cozy mystery with a western flair!
Marla and Dalton head out to Arizona for a honeymoon vacation at “The Lost Trails Resort” owned by Dalton’s cousin, Wayne. However, it’s not much of a honeymoon when Wayne enlist Dalton’s help in solving the mystery of a man’s disappearance, a series of accidents and murder.
Marla was put out with her husband for planning a honeymoon vacation without consulting her. A ranch resort and ghost town is a far cry from a romantic getaway in the tropics, which was what Marla had envisioned. She was also unhappy when Dalton’s family imposes upon him to help the local authorities with the puzzling events going on around the resort. But, Marla also wants to get to know Dalton’s family better, and this vacation will certainly give her that chance.
Once the investigation starts heating up, it’s Marla who can’t seem to stop herself from getting involved and she waste no time sharpening her sleuthing skills.
This is the twelfth book in this series, but to my knowledge this is the first one I’ve read. Marla, is a hairdresser, and I take it most of her usual crime solving capers are built around her hair salon. So, this one is most likely a departure for readers who have been following the series, due to the switch in locations, although Marla does get to practice her hairstyling skills on her new relatives.
As someone who has only been reading cozy style mysteries for a couple of years, I am still learning the way of things with this genre, but I must admit, I find myself reading them more and more often and I can see why they are so popular.
I found this mystery was a bit more complex than some others in the this genre. There were several threads going as it would seem someone is out to sabotage Dalton’s uncle to prevent him from resurrecting an old ghost town and there is no shortage of suspects, it would seem. To add a little extra layer of suspense, there are rumors of actual ghost or spirits surrounding the ghost town.
There were a few too many characters to keep up with, and at times the story got a little too busy, but that was my only issue with the book.
Marla is the typical nosy amateur sleuth, always finding a way to draw people out getting them to slip some key information. She passes that along to Dalton and they bounce theories off on one another. The couple makes a great team, with an easy, natural banter between them, even if Dalton isn’t the most romantic guy in all the world sometimes.
I thought the plot was well thought out, and there were some pretty big revelations along the way, one of which was a huge surprise I never saw coming. I love it when that happens because when you read as many mysteries, as I do, you can sometimes become a little jaded and hard to shock.
Overall, this was a satisfying cozy mystery, and I liked it well enough to want read some of this author’s back list and start following the series from here on out.