“It’s Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon, and for Zo that means the return of summer shoppers. It also means the return of her good friend Beth, who’s moved back to the area to reopen her family’s premier hotel, Spirit Canyon Lodge. Beth and Zo spent many childhood summers there and Zo can’t wait to reconnect and celebrate the Grand Opening. But the festivities go from bad to worse when a power outage knocks out the lights—and morning reveals a competitor’s dead body found on the premises …
Soon enough, Beth is the prime suspect in the suspicious death. Fortunately, Zo isn’t afraid to put her investigative skills to work and prove her friend’s innocence. To start digging for information, she appeals to Max Harrington, a local Forest Ranger and unlikely ally. Though they’ve argued about Happy Camper’s tours, in this case they agree on one thing: Beth isn’t a murderer. Stranger things have happened than their collaboration. After all, this is Spirit Canyon. But as the list of suspects grows, Zo will have to keep her guard up if she doesn’t want to be the next lodge guest to check out …” – Amazon
Open for Murder by Mary Angela is an excellent start to A Happy Camper Mystery series! Angela’s descriptions of the natural beauty, as well as South Dakota’s history is a huge reason why I enjoyed Open for Murder so much. I love when I find a cozy from a place I’ve never been to and the author does such a wonderful job making me feel as if I visited the place through the writing in their book.
The characters were very well developed for the first book in a series. Zo was a strong and competent protagonist and I’m looking forward to seeing her relationship with Beth grow again, since they haven’t seen each other in so many years. As far as the probable romance with Max, a Forest Ranger, it seems believable so far, and I like that it’s not the local detective/lawyer/journalist that is the love interest, since all of those have been used so many times in the cozy mystery genre. Even the secondary characters like Zo’s neighbor, Cunningham were fleshed out well, and I can see Cunningham and Beth’s husband being essential to future books.
This is not that important, but I’m still going to mention it. Zo, every time I read her name, I changed it to Zoe. Zo was found as a baby and the only thing she had was a necklace with Zo on it. So I’m interested to find out the story behind her being given up and the necklace.
And the mystery itself was very good. I liked how Angela made it a bit different, and I didn’t put all the pieces together, which I always enjoy.
With so many cozy series out there, I find that while I may like the first book in the series, I don’t take the time to seek out future books. A Happy Camper Mystery is one that I will be keeping an eye out for more to come!
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