Alpha Alpine

Alpha Alpine

Ms. Daheim begins again at A with this alphabetic cozy mystery series.

Alpha Alpine is the 27th in the Emma Lord series. It’s Labor Day in Alpine, a small town in the Cascade Range of mountains in Washington state.  Emma is investigating a mysterious death of a new waitress at the Venison Inn and the shooting of the waitress’ brother. Why did the waitress wear a wig and use a false name when applying for her new position?  Do the other two similar murders nearby imply a serial killer is at large? Blackwell is up to his usual shenanigans.  This time he is trying to run for a City Manager position that hasn’t even been voter-approved yet and is investigating the Sheriff’s office.

I haven’t read Mary Daheim since 2001 when she was only up to letter N (Alpine Nemesis #14).  I’m not sure why I stopped. Alpha Alpine is #27 in the series after Alpine Zen.  The beginning of this book was pretty confusing for non-series readers (and me).  All the characters are not only introduced but their relationship to other characters explained extensively in the first half of the book.  I found this boring compared to solving a murder case and starting skimming at about 5% in.  The first murder (of a visitor to the town of course) doesn’t occur until 20% into the book.

Much change occurred in the 16 years since I last read the series. Emma is now married to Sheriff Milo. Vida is talking about retiring.  Alison is a new character who is helping Emma investigate rather than Vida this time.  I always loved the small town setting of this series and that continues to be the case with this entry.  The mystery wasn’t as good as I expected from this author.  The extensive character explanation was a sluggish way to begin.  I think Alpha Alpine deserves a solid 3 stars.  However, it is not as good as her previous books. For readers just beginning the series, I would recommend starting at the first entry in the series, Alpine Advocate, rather than here.

Thanks to the publisher, Alibi, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy.

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