Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘camping trip’

LOST LAKE by Emily Littlejohn: Book Review

Four young people go on a camping trip near a lake with a tragic history that goes back over one hundred and fifty years, but only three of them return.  Is it possible for a body of water to be cursed?

Lost Lake is set in the beautiful Colorado wilderness.  During the summer, the site attracts hikers, campers, and picnickers, but during the winter months it’s an isolated place with, as noted, a particularly unhappy reputation.  What would make Ally, Mac, Jake, and Sari deal with melting snow, wet soil, and a two-mile uphill climb to get there?

All is fine when the four go to sleep in their tents that night, but in the morning Sari Chesney isn’t there.  Jake calls the Cedar Valley Police Department, and Detective Gemma Monroe is assigned to the case.  But is there actually a case?  It’s possible, Gemma says, that Sari simply left on her own and walked back down the hill although her cell phone and keys are still at the campsite.  But when the detective and the three friends drive to Sari’s apartment, she’s not there.

Sari’s friends tell Gemma that tonight would have been a special night for Sari.  She works at the Cedar Valley History Museum, and tonight is their major gala; there’s no way Sari would have missed it.  Then, to make matters even more bizarre, Gemma gets a call from Sari’s boss, Betty Starbuck, who tells her that not only is Sari missing but the museum’s most valuable artifact, the Rayburn Diary, has been stolen.  And, Betty adds, only four people have the combination to the safe in which the diary was held, and one of them is Sari. 

One of the two others with knowledge of the safe’s combination, besides Betty and Sari, is Dr. Larry Bornstein.  Larry tells Gemma about the Diary’s Curse, that every person who ever possessed it died a terrible death.  Although she doesn’t believe in supernatural powers, with two curses as part of the case she can’t help but be disturbed.  Coincidence or something more?

Betty insists that the gala, the one on which Sari was working, must go on as scheduled to keep the museum’s major donors and its board of directors happy.  All goes according to plan, with an excuse made to the attendees that the Diary was being restored and would be on display shortly.  The evening ends, and Gemma goes home only to be awakened in the early hours of the morning to the news that Betty’s bruised and beaten body has been found inside the museum.

Lost Lake is the fourth in the Gemma Monroe series.  Ms. Littlejohn has created a realistic portrait of today’s woman, someone trying to balance a demanding career, a fiancée who has let her down in the past, and an infant daughter.  Shatter the Night, the next in the series, is due out in 2019.

You can read more about Emily Littlejohn at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.




DESTROYER ANGEL by Nevada Barr: Book Review

Off on a camping trip with two of her friends and their daughters, Anna Pigeon is enjoying a well-deserved vacation.  Her friends are at the campsite while she’s enjoying an hour or two of solitude in a canoe on Minnesota’s Fox River when she hears a noise that sounds “off.”  It’s the sound of a pistol being cocked, Anna knows.  As a park ranger, she knows the sounds of guns as well as the sounds of nature, and she’s sure this is the former.  As quietly as possible, she heads the canoe back toward the campsite.

The four people at the campsite are as different as possible, given that they consist of two mothers and two daughters.  Leah Hendricks is the brains behind Hendricks and Hendricks, a sports gear and fashion company.  Her daughter Katie, age thirteen, is an unwilling participant on the trip.  The tension between them is palpable.

Heath and her daughter Elizabeth are the second mother and daughter, and they share a strong and happy relationship.  Heath is in a wheelchair, the result of an accident that broke her back; Elizabeth was adopted by Heath some time ago after a traumatic incident nearly took the girl’s life.  One of the reasons for the trip is for Heath to try out the new wheelchair, a product of Leah’s combined technical and creative abilities.  So far it’s been everything its inventor could have hoped, and the trip, except for the strain between Leah and Katie, could be termed a success. 

Then into the clearing come four men, each carrying a gun.  After making sure who Leah and Katie are, the leader of the men orders the two women and their daughters bound with plastic ties.  Just then Heath hears the faint sound of a canoe on the water, and she realizes that Anna is approaching.  Heath shouts out a warning, ostensibly at the intruders, “Stay away from us!  You hear me?”  But Anna realizes the warning is meant for her, for her to keep out of the camp and try to devise a plan to rescue her friends.

The four men don’t bother to explain the reason they are abducting the women, and the two mothers have no idea why they’ve been targeted.  Could it simply be random, Heath wonders.  But the idea of four heavily armed men coming deep into the wilderness in hopes of finding a group to kidnap seems absurd.  Plus, of course, the men knew Leah’s and Katie’s names.  For some reason the gunmen came looking for them.  But why?

Destroyer Angel is the eighteenth novel in the Anna Pigeon series, each book set in a different park.  Based in part on Nevada Barr’s own experiences as a ranger, the books take Anna from the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas (the first book) to the Iron Range in northern Minnesota in Destroyer Angel

The books, besides being excellent reads, give the reader a look into our national forests and our history.  Ms. Barr’s own background, both as a ranger and a former actress, makes her a natural storyteller.  Anna Pigeon is a character with brains, compassion, and abilities that shine through in every book.

You can read more about Nevada Barr at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.