Murder in the Secret Maze (A Tory Benning Mystery)
by Judith Gonda
About Murder in the Secret Maze
Murder in the Secret Maze (A Tory Benning Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Beyond the Publishing (February 26, 2020)
Paperback: 273 pages
Digital ASIN: B084HNMVGV
First in a new series featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning!
Landscape architect Tory Benning knows the lay of the land, but she’ll have to dig through the clues to unearth a killer . . .
After a whirlwind romance and a glorious wedding at the luxurious Hotel Santa Sofia, Tory Benning is ready to let down her hair, slip into her dancing shoes, and celebrate—until she discovers that her newly minted husband has vanished. The police suspect cold feet and second thoughts are behind Milo’s disappearance, but Tory’s certain he’s met with foul play. And since she designed the plush resort, she knows every nook and cranny of the grounds and adjoining secret maze, and wastes no time delving into her search.
As clues begin to emerge that Milo may have taken his last breath in the maze, Tory steps up her sleuthing, even as she learns she’s the prime suspect of a cop with a chip on his shoulder and is squarely in the sights of a menacing stalker. And when a second body is found on the grounds, Tory fears she’s up against a killer determined to silence any and all who get in the way. .
Not to be deterred, Tory forges ahead, navigating a case with more twists and turns than the maze itself, until the labyrinth of clues leads her to shocking revelations about her husband, her family, and the identity of a killer who’s dead set on making her the next victim . . . .
Dollycas’s Thoughts –
Shortly after the wedding in the idyllic garden at the Hotel Santa Sofia that was designed by the bride, her groom goes missing. Many suspect the had second thoughts but bride Tory Benning knows it is something more nefarious. The wonderful garden grounds of the hotel also include a secret maze and that is where Tory begins her search. Clues appear to show her husband may have lost his life there. When a second body is found Tory knows she is on the right track but she may lose her own life as she continues down the deadly path.
This story starts immediately with the missing groom and tells us Milo’s and Tory had a whirlwind romance. I really wish we could have gotten to know more about Milo in advance so we could have been more invested in his life. I had issues with Tory as well. Her reactions just seemed off to me. Yes, she was upset, but not upset in a way that she lost the love of her life. She didn’t rush into the reception and ask for help or even explain what was going on. Instead, she grabs her best friend and starts her own investigation. She makes some scary discoveries and still hesitated to call the police. I wish it would have been her best friend as the lead sleuth, so I immediately had to suspend reality to continue reading because Tory’s actions and reactions were just so off for a woman’s who just lost her husband and her father just a couple of weeks earlier.
Ms. Gonda did offer a vast variety of suspects including Tory. There were plenty of twists with two officers running their own investigations. Sergeant Adrian Ramirez is working with Tory while Sergeant Ernie Gomez thinks Tory is the guilty party. There is also a Private Investigator involved which adds to the diversion and drama. Romantic tension between him and Tory was evident but also felt off to me, just too soon. The investigations play out over a longer period of time than I am used to but a push by Tory starts to things moving again.
I think Tory would be a great protagonist and I liked the way she teamed up with her friend Ashley. This time the case was just too close and too personal. Had they been guests at the wedding or bridesmaids I think this story would have worked much better.
I do love that Tory is a Landscape Architect and the garden she created at Hotel Santa Sofia sounds like a marvelous venue. She is very creative and smart which will play very well in upcoming stories and investigations. I also loved that Tory has a Pomeranian, Iris that was even included in her wedding.
This story, in my opinion, has a few missteps, but it has good bones and it is well written with a lot of good ideas, maybe just too many for the first book in the series. I am interested to see where Ms. Gorda takes her characters next.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
About Judith Gonda
Judith Gonda is a mystery writer and Ph.D. psychologist with a penchant for Pomeranians and puns, so it’s not surprising that psychology, Poms, and puns pop up in her amateur sleuth mysteries featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning.
Great Escapes Praise for Murder in the Secret Maze (A Tory Benning Mystery)
by Judith Gonda
It doesn’t seem to take Tory long to get back on her feet and with help from her friend Ashley, to try to figure out what’s going on. The pair are great fun to read about, and they are actually cautious and careful in their sleuthing, which is something you don’t always find in mysteries.
~The Book’s the Thing
Murder in the Secret Maze is a multidimensional cozy mystery with wedding woes, a mysterious maze, curious clues, a perky Pomeranian, lush landscapes and a perplexing puzzle.
~The Avid Reader
This story is well developed with many twists that eventually come together in a believable, yet surprising, way.
~Christa Reads and Writes
Judith Gonda clearly knows how to write a story that is compelling, entertaining and fun, with characters that were not necessarily easy to love but fitted with the story really well.
~Brianne’s Book Reviews
“Murder in the Secret Maze” was ultimately entertaining and a good start to a new series.
~Bea’s Book Nook
Murder in the Secret Maze by Judith Gonda is a story filled with so much mystery that makes it seem like Tory’s life is a soap opera coming to life.
~Baroness’ Book Trove
April 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
April 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
April 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
April 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 11 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
April 11 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
April 12 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
April 13 – Brianne’s Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
April 14 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW
April 14 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
April 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
April 15 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
April 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
April 16 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
April 17 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
April 18 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 19 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
April 19 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
April 20 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW
April 21 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 21 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT
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