Reviewed by Ami
Title: Mountain Murder Mystery
Author: Benjamin Dahlbeck
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 200 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: The Severn family—Jeff and his wife Phyllis, Lynette and her new fiancé, and single Andy—has gathered at the mountain home of their grandmother, Mary Agnes Severn, to celebrate Thanksgiving and hear an announcement regarding their late grandfather’s will. With news of an escaped convict in the hills, everyone is barely settled in before a huge snowstorm strands them in the large old house with only gas lamps and lanterns to keep the darkness away.
Local sheriff Roger Dickerson arrives to check on the family and seek shelter from the storm. Sparks fly between him and Andy as long-held passions bubble just under the surface, but before they can address them, Mary Agnes’s three servants are murdered one by one. Who is the murderer? Is it the escaped murderer? Is it someone in the house? Everyone has a motive, and everyone has the means. What’s going on between Andy and Marcus the handyman? What’s going on between Phyllis and Marcus? Is there something going on between Roger and Marcus? It’s (snow)bound to be a wild week of murder, mystery, and mayhem!
Review: First of all, this being a release from DSP Publications, I was prepared for it not exactly having romance nor falling in the same sex genre. I was okay with that. So I guess if I should categorize this book, it would fall under Mystery Fiction genre.
Mountain Murder Mystery has a rather old-fashioned murder theme. We have a big cast of family members, and a sheriff, coming into a mountain home when murders happen in the midst of snowstorm which practically isolated everyone. I read a lot of this theme when I was younger, especially with Agatha Christie’s books (funny thing, I just watched the BBC version of “And Then There Were None”, which was brilliant adaptation!) or even that movie, Clue. However, this story is set in a modern setting.
It resulted in a … well, rather ‘interesting’ experience to say the least. I’m not exactly saying that in positive note, though. It felt old-fashioned, but at the same time, some contemporary references were made, like the term “going commando”. So it just felt off and a little bit weird.
Another thing that I need to mention is the writing style. This book practically consists of almost all dialog; like 90% – 95% of it. Some of them were really LONG, it took one whole paragraph … for example:
Andy walked over to the drinks table and began to fix himself a drink. “Oh, no? You want to know what happens when I’m proactive and put myself out there? Several months ago I went to a sold-out Kathy Griffin concert. Kathy Griffin. There was going to be a higher concentration of gay men in one venue than at any other time except maybe Pride Day. Surely the odds are in my favor, right? I mean, I didn’t go into this with unrealistic expectations. I wasn’t expecting to meet the man of my dreams, but I did hope I might get a date or even a one-night stand. At the very least, I figured I might get to flirt with someone, talk to some gay guys. But, no. There is a demon in hell who apparently loves to torment me. And I clearly provide a lot of entertainment for the little bastard. I get to the theater. I see gaggles of gay men wandering about the lobby area, and I think ‘This is a good sign.’ I go to the usher, and I’m escorted to my seat two rows from the stage. I turn and look behind me at a massive theater chock-full of gay men: gay men in the orchestra, gay men in the mezzanine, gay men in the balcony. I mean, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a gay man! So, what do I get for my seventy-dollar seat? A heterosexual couple in front of me, a heterosexual couple behind me, an empty seat to my right and to my left… a retired lesbian kindergarten teacher.”
“I said, hush, Lynette.” Mary Agnes looked at Everett, “There is a reason why I have only the one phone line in this house.” She gestured to the phone on the table by the stairwell. “A person should only be on the phone if they actually have something important to say. Nowadays I hear the most inane conversations going on in the most inappropriate places.” As she spoke she walked behind the sofa to a cabinet next to the closet containing the extra quilts. “Just the other day I was at the grocery store and a woman was on the phone telling someone she was in the condiments aisle. I mean, is that really vital information that someone needed to know? No one is present in the moment anymore. No one focuses on what is happening right in front of them.” She opened a drawer and took out a hammer and a beautiful little satin bag with a drawstring, normally used to wrap a bottle of wine. “I resent when I’m talking to someone and their cell phone rings and they interrupt the conversation to speak with the person who called, only to tell them, ‘I can’t talk right now, I’ll have to call you back.’ Isn’t that what voice mail is for?” Mary Agnes stopped to look at the five people watching her with various expressions on their faces, ranging from curiosity to worry. “It’s a generation of Pavlov’s dogs!” she said scornfully. “A bell rings and they automatically answer the cell phone. I feel like I should keep sausage treats in my purse.” She walked over to the small table beside the sofa on the end where Everett sat. “And if I go to one more restaurant or one more play where I have to hear some cretin’s telephone ring with some hideous, atonal composition right at a key moment, why I may have to take advantage of the liberal concealed weapons laws in this state and start firing!”
Yep, THAT long… While the rest are short enough, they’re still all dialog. Personally, it made the reading experience exhausting. Like reading a script for a stage drama *shrugs*
I wasn’t too impressed with the characters as well … especially the sheriff. I mean, here he was, in an isolated mountain home, and there were not one, not two, but THREE murders that happened while he was there. However, instead of being busy trying to investigate, he seemed to be more focused on rekindling some sort of relationship with one of the Severn family members. I know that he admitted he never handled a murder case before. However, he was practically the only law enforcer at the crime scene. Nobody else was available. So make some sort of attempt, will you?
And what’s with the grandmother – who was too busy commenting about her only single grandson? Which included her making an example of a woman, of whom she said “All I’m saying is that if Tammy Shingle can find a man, then there’s hope for us all”… which annoyed me to the very end, because I felt that her words (and later on her explanation) was a bit insulting to this Tammy character.
Lastly, and this is what makes me see red to be honest, is the conclusion of everything. We have the revelation which I could accept. It is a good enough motive. BUT then comes the revelation after the first revelation … let’s just say, THAT part seriously pissed me off. I don’t know why the author decided to go that way, maybe he thought it would be a fun ending, something not exactly mainstream. Well, I wasn’t amused. Not at all. In fact, it made me want to go inside the book and do a killing spree with all these characters myself.
*** MILD SPOILER ***
You see, when it comes to murder, I want justice, especially if the victims don’t really deserve to have their lives taken. So when this one character revealed the plan and the motive, and then how the book ended, it didn’t go the way I like my mystery book to be.
With all due respect to the author, this book failed to entertain me on all fronts. But the fact that I ended this book with extreme anger was the main reason for my rating . Of course, I believe that people have different takes and experiences, so any of you might enjoy this more than I.
Overall Impression: I wasn’t feeling it
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*