01 June 2012

As a cozy mystery series, Beth Groundwater's Rocky Mountain mystery series is standard fare.

I have to admit, I am one of those people who really enjoy a good cozy mystery and feel that these cozies certainly have a role to play in the reading spectrum.  Sure, they are not known for their complex plots, plot twists, or multi-layered characters, but as a quick, fun read, they certainly fit the bill.  In fact, I have several cozy series that I enjoy and read avidly.

Deadly Currents is the first in a new cozy mystery series by author Beth Groundwater. As most cozys do, this series has a focus -  the town of Salida, Colorado on the banks of the Arkansas River and the types of sports that are prevalent in that area. In the first edition of the series the backdrop is the white water rafting tourist industry. The main character in the book, Mandy Tanner,  is a seasonal river ranger on the Arkansas and a former river rafting guide whose uncle runs a rafting company.  As a character Mandy is interesting, mostly for her confrontational style and, like most cozy mystery heroines, ability to stick her nose in to everyone else's business.  And while some of the other characters were interesting, some of them were just plain annoying. An example is Rob, the love interest of main character Mandy Tanner. I found Rob overbearing and smarmy and, after reading the first two books in the series, I still don't trust him or understand what Mandy sees in him.  In Wicked Eddies, the second title, the recurring characters are given a bit more depth which makes it easier to become invested in them.  In addition, Mandy and Rob's plans to expand their business promises many new opportunities for Mandy to practice her sleuthing skills in the future.  I still didn't particularly see what Mandy saw in Rob, but by the end of this book even he was starting to grow on me. 

IWicked Eddies, the second title in Beth Groundwater's RM Outdoor Adventures series we again find Mandy, Rob, and their various cohorts, employees and employers embroiled in the thick of a mystery as murder once again hits Salida, Colorado. In this case, it is one of the town's fly fishing aficionados, who just happens to be the uncle of Mandy's bartending friend Cynthia. I actually felt this book was a bit better than the first book in the series.

IF you are a cozy mystery reader who likes outdoor adventure sports, these books should have plenty to interest you. In both cases, the author certainly did her homework where both the rafting industry and fly fishing competitions are concerned.  The information included in the books on both white water rafting  in the first book, and fly fishing in the second are spot on and interesting.  In fact, in my opinion, that has been  the best part of both books. The plots were standard for a cozy mystery and as such they get  good marks from me. On the other hand,  while I really enjoyed the detailed information about the adventure sports and the descriptions of the river, when that same attention to detail was used to describe a cup of coffee I felt it was just a little too much. I will say, though, that I did read the second book in the series and found that the author's use of description was more balanced.

If you are an Outdoor Adventure fan and like cozy mysteries, this series will probably appeal to you. I would give the first book 3 stars.  The second one gets 3.5 stars and I consider it a good entrant into the cozy mystery genre.

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