Awhile back, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the anthology “Silence of the Loons.” Put out by the “Minnesota Crime Wave” (Ellen Hart, Carl Brookins and William Kent Krueger) the anthology was a good one and I enjoyed it immensely. So, Carl Brookins sent me a review copy of their latest anthology quite some time ago. I was thrilled and added it to mount TBR which promptly surrounded it, burped in satisfaction and continued to grow.Â I’m officially over 300 books now at last count and woefully behind in my reading. Fortunately, Texas is a long away from Minnesota so I should be relatively safe.
After a brief introduction by Lorna Landvik on why Minnesota produces so many good mystery writers, the book delves into the tales. There are 13 tales by 13 writers which include the three of the “Minnesota Crime Wave” and many more authors. Each tale is set at a fictional resort in Minnesota and each one is complex and enjoyable with no depictions of graphic violence, gore or sex. Some of the tales can be described more fully than others simply because to comment on some of them would blow the read. Having read many reviews that told way too much, I always lean towards being very cautious in my reviews so the tales will be explained as much as possible or not as the case may be.
William Kent Krueger kicks off the killing in his “Hills Like White Rabbits.” Cooper knew they planned to kill him. Exactly how was the part that was still a mystery.” (Page 2)
“The Locked Fishâ€“cleaning House Mystery” by Jess Lourey is next. While the title may not be inspired, this tale about an elderly woman determined to party and solve a murder at the same time is.
Followed by “14-A” written by Ellen Hart that takes a look at the pain of love and how relationships evolve or de-evolve over time. The little things begin to burrow under the skin and an outside threat can make everything explode.
The age old theme of cheating comes to light in the tale of “Miss Behavin’” by David Housewright. A favorite author of mine whose most recent novel is “Dead Boyfriends” creates here a story a story full of misdirection and complications. Â
“Out of the Jacuzzi, Into the Sauna” by Scott Pearson marks the author’s first published mystery story despite a long and impressive publishing history in various areas. Kate and Bill, a married couple, have known things at Great Lakes Lodges were wrong from the moment they called to confirm their check in. They didn’t know that while they could check in, they easily might never check out.
Pat Dennis follows with a tale titled “Mother’s Day.” Carl has had enough of dear old mom and he has a plan.
If you haven’t read Carl Brookins before you have really missed out. Â ”Bloody Halls” was/is an excellent book as is the often laugh out loud “The Case of the Greedy Lawyers” featuring private investigator Sean no middle initial Sean always present in his red sneakers. Sean also makes an appearance here in the tale titled “Fish Story.” Sean isn’t much happy to be in a vacation resort in northern Minnesota. He had a more exotic climate in mind for vacation and if that isn’t enough, he certainly didn’t want to be dragged in to a local murder case.
While many of the stories are told from the viewpoint of the guests, Joel Arnold took a different angle.Â In “Leave No Wake” he weaves a tale told from the view point of one of the elderly owners of a resort who soon has a dead body to deal with along with a business to run. Along the way, Mr. Varney is reminded just how quickly time passes under business pressure. This very good story does feature a character with a penchant for graphic language that is out of tone with the rest of the anthology.
“The Moose Whisperer” by Deborah Woodworth features characters who aren’t sleeping as well as they should be or need to. Police Chief Jens Johansson is one of the nocturnal wanderers and he saw something odd in the middle of the night while on vacation at Glass Lake. Something that he will need to follow on and something that is just a small piece of a bigger deal.
Barbara DaCosta is next with her disturbing story “Cabin 6″. This is her first story and it is a good one. A story that really can’t be explained at all without ruining it for other readers. So, I won’t.
Like the “Bird of Prey” the human known as the “Falcon” goes after his next kill. In this tale written by Michael Allan Mallory, some things are obvious while many others are not.
“The Body at Dust Bowl Lake” is exactly that and much more. History plays the main role in this interesting tale written by Moira F. Harris.
Judith Yates-Borger concludes the anthology well with her tale “Hunter’s Lodge.” The past is a huge part of the tale as well and in this case the past must be honored and it will be. Like others in this anthology, this also marks her first foray into the field of mystery writing after an extensive and award winning journalist career.Â
Unlike many anthologies that place the interesting author biographical information at the back of the book, this anthology does the right thing and places it at the beginning of each tale. Also, pictures of the authors are included. Therefore, the book is well designed and places the picture of the author and bio on the left page with the tale written by the author on the right. By such format, one gets a feel for the author before delving into the tale.
Like the anthology “Silence of the Loons” the tales in this book feature intriguing character from a variety of viewpoints and walks of life. Some have seen this collection as darker in tone, but, I would not agree. Graphic descriptions are not present here with the focus being on the characters and the tales they tell. Each tale, well told, often is filled with misdirection while touching on some of the age old concepts of deceit, family honor, envy and others that ultimately lead to murder. Murder, well told and another good read compiled and edited by the members of the “Minnesota Crime Wave.”
Resort to Murder: Thirteen More Tales of Mystery by Minnesota’s Premier Writers
Edited by the Minnesota Crime Wave
Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2008