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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review - Stone Cold Dead

This week I am reviewing a debut novel set in my home state of Colorado, in the nosebleed mountainous areas.  Let's see how it does on the setting with a native.

Author: Catherine Dilts

Copyright: Jan 8 2014 (Five Star) 332 pgs

Series: 1st in Rock Shop Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Morgan Iverson, a widow stuck with her brother's Rock Shop, Rock of Ages

Setting: Modern day, Golden Springs, Colorado

Obtained Through: Author for honest review

Morgan believes she is visiting her brother for two weeks in the small mountain town of Golden Springs to cover while her brother and wife take a vacation. Upon arriving, she is informed that her brother and wife and not planning to return from their mission trip but rather stay in South America. Morgan finds a run down and failing rock shop thrust upon her. The next morning the two rock shop resident donkeys, Houdini and Adelaide, bust loose and neighbor/employee Del and Morgan go searching to round them up. In the course of the search, Morgan finds the body of a young woman, obviously Goth, with a gargoyle tattoo. The news quickly spreads and the town newspaperman, who dresses as if he were a 1940's reporter, makes Morgan front page news with a hint that she may have seen something important.

Morgan has several incidents that seem to be questionable near-accidents. In the midst of staying alive, Morgan is learning the local politics involved with running the rock shop, joins a church lickety-split, finds the dead girl made accusations against a local pastor, mixes with New Age shop owners, is cleaning and rejuvenating the rock shop, and joins a running club.

Morgan is pleasantly a mature woman having raised two children and recently lost her husband. She is a little out of shape. I liked her good heart and persistance. Delano (Del) Addison is an old cowboy that works in the rock shop and becomes protective of Morgan. There is some potential for this character to develop into a complex element. Bernie is a cafe owner and operator who is fast becoming Morgan's best friend. Kurt Willard, the retro fashion newspaper man turns out to be more than first impressions hinted at. Piers is a suave New Age shop owner who remains a mystery through most of the book. Trevin, the boyfriend of the goth girl, is perhaps my favorite surprise character. Then there is Houdini and Adelaide, the donkeys, who become celebrities in the course of this adventure.

Golden Springs and nearby "big town" Granite Junction in the winter are chillingly portrayed. I got cold reading the blizzard parts. Living in Colorado all of my life, it is a good representation of a small mountain community and I have been in many a rock shop that could have been Rock of Ages.

The story took a little while to really capture my interest, but once it did everything rolled along. The story had a good variety of suspects and some thrilling moments. There is attention given to the town, the rock shop business, and the town's people, which is to be expected in a cozy.

The killer reveal came about in a nicely thought out situation that created plenty of tension. The wrap up was heart warming and left me with a smile.

The mountain setting creates a unique setting for this cozy that provides plenty of interesting characters and a level headed mature heroine that gives this debut a special blend. If you like small town cozy mysteries, this is a special mountain edition for you.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Mark Baker said...

I got a copy of this book for review myself and my thoughts pretty much mirrored yours. Slow start but compelling when it got going.

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