When the call comes in that Mike Wilson, the unlikable owner of West Branch Lodge, has gone missing, Sheriff Tully is delighted. This is an excellent opportunity for Tully, his tracker pal Dave, and his retired sheriff father, Pap, to enjoy a few evenings of hot tubs and single-malt scotch at the luxurious lodge while working the case. However, visions of R&R vanish in a flash on the drive up, when Tully and Pap suddenly realize an avalanche is thundering down the mountain, straight toward them.
Tully manages to outrun the crush of snow, but the road behind is blocked, and there's no telling for how long. Tully's stranded at the lodge with a motley group of vacationers and locals - a sassy co-ed, a group of rambunctious fraternity boys, a shadowy group of what looks like ex-cons, the missing owner's wife, a suspiciously good-looking bartender, and worst (or perhaps best) of all, Tully's old flame, who shows up with her dogsled and naughty intentions.
Both vacationers and locals start to look like suspects when Tully discovers startling evidence proving that the avalanche was no accident of nature. But why would anybody want him dead? And then the missing persons case turns into a murder case when Mike Wilson's body turns up in the river a couple of days later.
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Another fun romp with the Sheriff
Haven't read the print version
Old and crusty
Overall, the book is another fun little mystery that doesn't feel the need to delve into the gory details and depravity that many murder mysteries do.
However, Danny Campbell's narration leaves a little to be desired. His voice is enjoyably gruff and gravelly but, much like Tim Curry's reading of A Christmas Carol, it serves certain characters extremely well while becoming a liability to others. Pap and even Sheriff Tully are well served by this vocal performance but any female character has trouble coming across as very feminine. Patrick F. McManus also writes certain pieces of dialogue without identifying who is speaking at different points in the conversation. In print this usually isn't much of an issue because you can keep track of this as you read. It also doesn't cause a problem in audiobooks if the narrator can sufficiently separate each character's voice. Alas, Mr. Campbell doesn't do that too well here and so there are a few conversations that tend to get a little confusing.
Still, I would fully recommend anyone who likes a comedic mystery pick this up even at full price, I think it's worth it.
- S. Furniss