Emma Lord, the heroine of Daheim's so-so 16th cozy (after 2002's Alpine Obituary to feature the newspaper publisher/sometime sleuth, has been a resident of Alpine, Wash., for 13 years, but she's still somewhat of an outsider in this small, closed community, with its tight-knit loyalties and lasting enmities. The revival of an amateur theater troupe that began in Alpine before WWI and shut down in 1929, utilizing the talents of local citizens and aided by a drama professor from Skykomish Community College, leads to an onstage death. Is it an accident or murder? And is the mysterious stranger seen hanging around the theater before the shooting real or a figment of overheated imaginations? The town-and-gown atmosphere requires Lord to find out more about campus politics and the lives of neighbors and friends as she assists, prods and frustrates Sheriff Milo Dodge, her former lover. Daheim effectively uses the harsh winter weather (rain, snow, slush, floods and cold) as a backdrop for her story, but only diehard fans of the series will have much patience with the mostly lackluster characters and the strained humor. The ongoing saga of Emma's place in the sun (or perhaps rain would be more appropriate) holds small attraction in a mystery that stretches to an unconvincing, unsatisfying conclusion.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004 Release date: 03/01/2004
Hardcover - 236 pages - 978-0-375-43317-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-0-345-44792-0