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The Alpine Zen, by Mary Daheim.

March 30, 2015
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The Alpine Zen, by Mary Daheim.  Ballantine Books (2015), Hardcover, 352 pages.

3 stars

The twenty-sixth novel in a mystery series centering on Emma Lord and a small community in the mountains of Washington state.

Mary Daheim is a prolific writer who has written a host of mysteries and historical fiction books. In this series, Daheim focuses on Emma Lord, the editor of the newspaper in the small community of Alpine, Washington. She has recently married Millo Dodge, the town’s sheriff with whom she has a loving but abrasive relationship. He and the rest of the community are essential to Emma’s detective work.  In this novel a weird visitor and an unknown corpse buried at the town dump set off a search that touches others in the community.

The setting for the novel was once a real mining town in the Cascade Mountains, now abandoned except in Daheim’s books.

Unsurprisingly, I found this mystery enjoyable. Daheim is a practiced writer and not striving to be literary. Reading the book without having read those that went before was a problem, however. Unlike those who have been following Emma for years, I couldn’t keep up with all the characters, all with a history of their own. I suspect that those who have read the previous volumes will be the ones who like this one most. Maybe those who enjoy small town murders will enjoy this series if they start on some of the earlier books.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Ballantine Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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