cover image ECSTASY: An Alex Bernier Mystery

ECSTASY: An Alex Bernier Mystery

Beth Saulnier, . . Mysterious, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-750-6

In Saulnier's fifth highly entertaining, if not terribly nuanced, mystery to feature Gabriel, N.Y., reporter Alex Bernier (last seen in 2002's Bad Seed), Alex gets saddled with covering Melting Rock Music Festival, a four-day annual event held in nearby Jaspersburg. For some, the assignment might be an opportunity to dance to the beat and bond with the earth. For Alex, the festival is about Porta-Johns, greasy food and sleeping—or trying to sleep—in a tent. Alex meets six high-school kids who have been coming to the festival for years. Good story, Alex thinks, and sends a dispatch to the office. The story really begins, however, when one of the kids, and then another, dies of a drug overdose. Alex enlists the aid of her policeman boyfriend to determine if the overdoses were truly accidental. Of course, they were not. Likely murderers range from middle-aged flower children to purple-haired girls to unsavory drug dealers, and Alex does a respectable job wading through them all. Meanwhile, she's also following a story involving Benson College, the occasionally overbearing local institute of higher learning, which has developed a cooling system using water from an unusually deep lake. First fake blood and then a real dead body show up in the system's tanks. The music festival and especially the cooling project provide fascinating settings for murders. Regional author tour. Agent, James Vines. (Mar. 18)