Review: River ranger Mandy Tanner is cleaning up a campsite in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area when she comes across a dead body, a hatchet embedded in the man's throat, in Wicked Eddies, the second mystery in this series by Beth Groundwater.
The dead man is Howie Abbott, a loner but one with family in the area. Indeed, his niece is Cynthia Abbott, one of Mandy's closest friends. As it appears as if Howie was asleep at the time of his murder, the coroner rules that it wouldn't have taken much strength for someone, male or female, to have swung the hatchet that killed him. Somewhat oddly, he was also attacked with pepper spray. The Abbott clan doesn't seem too concerned about Howie's death, their attention focused on 15-year-old Faith, another of Howie's nieces and Cynthia's cousin; she has disappeared, apparently having run away from home. But Mandy doesn't have much time to investigate the murder as the rocky Mountain Cup flyfishing tournament is about to take place along the river, an annual event that draws a crowded field, participants who take the competition very seriously.
There's a good sense of place in Wicked Eddies, probably its strongest element. The murder mystery itself is nicely structured and paced, but almost seems to be more of a subplot in the book, overly complicated for what should have been a simple crime for the police to investigate. Despite some attempt to insert red herrings — Cynthia's arrest for Howie's murder never rings quite true — the number of viable suspects is really quite small, particularly after another body is found. The primary storyline is centered on Mandy herself, troubled by the recent death of her uncle, from whom she inherited his nearly bankrupt rafting business. There's also Mandy's relationship with her boyfriend and current business partner Rob Juarez, who is pressuring her to move on with her life. In this regard, the book closes with something of a cliffhanger.
Wicked Eddies is an enjoyable, fast-reading crime novel, but given Mandy's occupation and the setting, the series' two principal strengths, a bit disappointing in that the mystery itself has little to do with either.
Acknowledgment: Midnight Ink provided an eARC of Wicked Eddies for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
A Basket of Trouble
Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback), November 2013
ISBN-13: 9780738727035; ISBN-10: 0738727032
Location(s) referenced in Wicked Eddies: Colorado
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Wicked Eddies by Beth Groundwater — A Mandy Tanner Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2012
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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