Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am thrilled to welcome Vivian Conroy to Escape With Dollycas!
Escape to Tundish, Montana: The Town with a Heart of Gold!
So nice to be on Escape with Dollycas to tell a bit about my brand-new mystery, Last Pen Standing, first in the Stationery Shop Mysteries.
Don’t you just love to explore a new place and discover its historic buildings, great food, and friendly locals? Let me take you to Tundish, my very own wild west town! If there was a leaflet promoting it, it would say something much like this:
In the Bitterroot Valley, home to crystal clear lakes and snowcapped mountains, there’s a little town with a heart of gold, called Tundish.
Famous for its gold-mining history, today it caters to tourists coming to explore the historic buildings and the great outdoors, especially during the leaf-peeping season when the trees turn a stunning golden, orange and red. If you’re dropping by to snap a few shots of the fall glory, don’t miss these four highlights:
1) The former sheriff’s office on Mattock Street, containing many original elements such as old cells, the sheriff’s desk, and hitching posts! Now a stationery shop, aptly called WANTED, it provides wrapping paper, notebooks, calligraphy sets and washi tape for all your crafting needs. You can also take a workshop to develop your hand lettering or paper crafting skills.
2) The restaurant Mine Forever, where everything refers back to Tundish’s history: from the mining equipment on top of the building to the gold-lump shaped doorknob. Their coffee has won lots of prizes and the waitresses are always there for a friendly chat.
3) The Lodge Hotel, located on the edge of a beautiful lake. You can go boating, horse riding, mountain biking, or bird watching with experienced guides. They offer regular live entertainment on weekends and a high tea on Sunday afternoons. Special tip: the annual gold miners’ party in the Golden Age style is famous in the region.
4) The gold mining museum where volunteers dressed up in authentic 19th-century clothing tell-all about the pull of that sparkly metal, cheating with claims and family life on the goldfields. Bring home a cute souvenir in the shape of a tiny mining cart filled with nuggets of what looks a lot like the real thing.
Eager for more detail on these lovely places? Come along with Delta Douglas, her friends from the Paper Posse and retired K9 officer Spud as they navigate new beginnings, smalltown gossip, and murder in Last Pen Standing, the start to an exciting crafting-themed series set against a charming western backdrop.
Thank you, Vivian, for stopping by today and introducing us to Tundish.
Keep reading for my thoughts about Last Pen Standing.
Last Pen Standing (Stationery Shop Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Montana
Poisoned Pen Press (September 24, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07PX3QYC9
Will this paper trail run cold?
As the new co-owner of Tundish Montana’s stationery shop WANTED, Delta Douglas knows how to organize a killer crafting event. Creativity and cardstock are all she needs to move one step closer to her ultimate dream: developing her own line of crafting products. But on the night of the workshop, at the swanky hotel venue, glitter isn’t the only thing found sprawled on the floor. A hotel guest is discovered dead in the bar, and amid the confusion, Delta’s best friend is suspected of the crime.
Enlisting the help of her Paper Posse and Spud, her canine sidekick, Delta dives into the investigation. But with many high-powered suspects on the line, Delta soon realizes her sleuthing may come with deadly consequences.
Delta Douglas has come to Tundish, Montana to follow her dreams. Her grandmother has gifted her inheritance early so she can go into business with her best friend Hazel as co-owner of a stationary store set up in an old sheriff’s office, complete with jail cells. Hazel has fittingly named the store WANTED. Delta’s plans include developing her own line of crafting supplies and products.
Delta arrives in town just in time to help Hazel host a workshop at The Lodge Hotel. The hotel is a busy place with a huge party in the ballroom while the WANTED workshop takes place in a large conference room. The hotel manager is adamant the two groups remain separate clearly favoring the well to do guests attending the party. One of the exclusive guests apparently didn’t get the memo because she wanders into the workshop clearly taken with the crafts especially some very special notebooks. She asks that they are set aside for her until she can return to pay for them.
The workshop ends without the woman returning so Delta and Hazel decide to leave the notebooks at the front desk. Before they can leave the building they learn someone has been murdered. Hazel and Delta find themselves wrapped up in the chaos and the crush of people as the police arrive. The police pay special attention to Hazel and her brother Finn, who is employed by the hotel and involved with the owner’s daughter. In fact, the siblings are quickly loaded into police cars and taken in for questioning.
Not sure what has really happened Delta enlists the help of the ladies from the workshop, also known as the Paper Posse. They are familiar with the town and its residents but she can get away with being the new girl in town to ask some pointed questions too. She knows she is on the right track when she receives her first threat.
Welcome to Tundish, Montana. The author introduces readers to a vast number of characters keeping each one unique and memorable. Delta Douglas in a talented artist ready to make her break into the world. She and Hazel were college roommates then quickly became best friends. Hazel was not fully truthful with Delta on a very important topic and that gave me pause. We also meet Jonas Nord, a retired Detective, and his dog Spud also retired from law enforcement. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, the opposite of the police chief who just wants to arrest someone. There is a large number of supporting characters, mostly the owners, staff, and guests at the hotel. People with secrets make fabulous suspects.
I really didn’t have a favorite character in this story, they are just too new. But I am looking forward to the next book to get to know them better. I especially want to get to know that Paper Posse better, they seem to be a very interesting group.
I love where this story takes place. A wild-west town that tourists love to visit. I am not sure yet if I have a complete picture of the stationery store in my head yet. Hazel has tried to keep the sheriff’s office intact as much as possible while displaying some artifacts to show the town’s history while also displaying all the goods for sale in a way to draw her customer in and entice them to make a purchase. The hotel was easy for me to envision and I would love to visit the gold mining museum.
The mystery had its share of twists and turns to keep those pages turning. The flow dipped a few times though and some of the characters actions were a little out there, but the author pasted everything together for a satisfactory ending.
The first book in a series is always a heavy lift because readers need to meet the characters and learn their place, get to know the setting, and still demand a mystery we can tear apart and wrap back together all within a set number of pages. In my opinion, the author does a great job of that in this debut novel of this series.
Last Pen Standing gives this series a strong start. I am excited to see what Ms. Convoy comes up with next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Stationery Shop Mysteries are the latest addition to Vivian Conroy’s expanding mystery range. She also writes the contemporary Country Gift Shop Mysteries and the historical Murder Will Follow Mysteries, paying tribute to her favorite mystery author Agatha Christie. Away from the keyboard, Vivian loves to hike, craft, and hang out on Twitter where readers can connect with her via @VivWrites.
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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.”