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.