Bitter Alpine: An Emma Lord Mystery
(Emma Lord Returns)
by Mary Daheim
About Bitter Alpine
Bitter Alpine: An Emma Lord Mystery (Emma Lord Returns)
2nd in Series
Setting – Washington
Publisher: Alibi (February 4, 2020)
~Print Length: 235 pages
New year, new murder . . . Emma Lord is on the case when death finds its way back to the wintry mountain town of Alpine.
After a relatively calm and cozy holiday season, neither Emma Lord, editor and publisher of The Alpine Advocate, nor her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, are surprised when their new year gets off to a rocky start. A woman’s body has been found in a squalid motel. Her driver’s license shows that Dawn Purvis was in her late thirties and lived in Weaverville, California—and the only connection between that town and Alpine is their gold-mining and logging origins. When they discover that Dawn’s room reservation was open-ended, Emma, Milo, and the ever-inquisitive Advocate receptionist, Alison Lindahl, are more than mildly curious. And never mind that the youthful Alison is a bit distracted by the new county extension agent’s virile good looks. She can still sleuth while she stalks her newest crush.
But that’s not all the news that’s unfit to print. There’s something strange about the older couple who have moved into the cabin down the road that was once owned by a murder victim. The elderly wife seems anti-social. There’s got to be a reason, which Emma, Milo, and Alison intend to find out—even if it puts them in deadly danger.’
This series continues as we enter 2007. The Alpine Advocate editor Emma Lord and her new husband Sheriff Milo Dodge ring in the new year only to find themselves embroiled in another investigation. A women’s body is found in a local hotel and they can’t find any connection between her and Alpine. The new Advocate receptionist even does a little sleuthing. All three are also concerned about an older couple the have moved in down the road. Needless to say, all their snooping could be dangerous.
I have enjoyed all the previous 27 books in the series. This time Emma and Milo are even more cantankerous than usual and I felt Emma has lost some of her conviction and that detracted from the joy I usually feel when visiting Alpine. Emma also uses a derogatory term to describe her son that almost had me putting the book down for good. I know the story is set 13 years ago and the author probably used it as a reference for the time, but it is a term I believe was even seldom used even then. I was also taken aback by the way domestic abuse was handled. In fact, that word, that abuse, and some of Emma’s actions ring more from the ’50s instead of the early 2000s. As I kept reading I understood why the author handled the abuse as she did, but it was hard to read in places. Vida also has her share of troubles within these pages.
The mysteries were hit and miss for me. One of the problems with a long-running series is giving new readers background on the town and its inhabitants. It is important to learn the small-town dynamics like everyone is related to Scene Around Town columnist, Vida Runkel and that Ed Bronsky is going to drop by the Advocate office with some new scheme. Ms. Daheim did that almost too much this time. The asides messed with the flow at times. Emma seemed to be off her game with these investigations. I did think it was hilarious near the end of the book when Milo locked Emma in the car and warned her not to try to get any closer. What was sad was that she actually did it. Not all the loose ends are tied up at the end. Emma’s son Adam has been transferred from Alaska to Michigan and Vida’s replacement as she retires looks to be ad man Leo’s wife Liza.
The author continues to capture the weather and atmosphere of Alpine, Washington. January there can be brutal.
I am hoping the stumbles in this story are just a blip in the life of this series. Writing 28 books featuring the same characters and keeping things new and fresh has to be incredibly hard. I will be looking forward to the next installment because I do want to see what happens next for the residents of Alpine.
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About Mary Daheim
About the Author
Praise for Bitter Alpine: An Emma Lord Mystery
(Emma Lord Returns)
by Mary Daheim
I’m not sure how I missed this series, but I am glad to have found it now (and as there is a recap at various points you are not left sidelined for information!)
~A Wytch’s Book Review Blog
Milo is called out to the apparent murder of a woman at the motel on the fringe of town and sets off the investigation leading to some red herrings which will definitely throw you off track in this cold, heavily snow-laden mountain community.
. . . it was a fun read and I enjoyed the wintry feel of it.
~Gimme The Scoop Reviews
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”