Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Murder at the Bonfire by Sandi Scott

In lieu of payment for the portrait of a majestic Great Dane, Georgie Kaye gets an all-expenses paid weekend at a nature preserve and resort outside of Chicago. Renown for its maple ice cream, Georgie and sister, Aleta, pack up her aging Volkswagen, Pablo, and head off for some fresh air and a change of scenery.

While scoping out the dessert offerings at the lodge, the sisters observe the resort manager, Joyce Reid, publicly and unmercifully dressing down Merv, the maintenance man. Afterwards they find out from hunky Park Ranger Luke Holt that Merv has been at the resort for over 20 years but has had a hard time coping since his wife passed away.

When Joyce’s body is discovered floating face down in the lake, the sisters learn that there isn’t a single staff member mourning her death. With hints of satanic goings-on in the woods and an attack on Aleta herself, the sisters, Georgie’s ex-husband Stan, and Ranger Luke (Aleta’s new beau) join forces to find the killer.

In this eighth entry in Scott’s Pet Portraits cozy mystery series, Murder at the Bonfire focuses a little more attention on the relationships of the sisters rather than the build up and eventual solution of the murder. Georgie continues to struggle with her feelings for ex-husband, Stan, who left her in the lurch with children still at home when he went midlife crazy. She loves him but she’s still not over the hurt and memories of that betrayal. On the other hand, Aleta is starting to look forward rather than remaining sunk in a pleasant past and memories of her long and comfortable life with her deceased husband, William. The murder mystery is simple and straightforward. New characters and settings help in advancing this charming sisters’ story.

Recommended for cozy mystery readers and those that enjoy reading stories with older, but not necessarily elderly, protagonists figuring out what’s what.

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