Reviewed by: Lisa Haselton (I received an ARC of the book in exchange for my review)
Mid-40’s, widowed, Morgan Iverson drives her old, run-down car from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Golden Springs, Colorado to watch her family’s Rock of Ages store for her brother and sister-in-law. They say it’s only a 2-week mission trip, but as soon as Morgan arrives they toss her the keys and tell her it’s a permanent getaway.
Morgan, the protagonist, is stressed enough with her new ownership status, but then the two donkeys, Adelaide and Houdini escape through an open gate, so she and one of the part-time employees go off after the animals. Morgan isn’t dressed for walking mountain trails in January and is even more unprepared for a dead body in her path. With no cell service, Morgan has to leave the young woman’s body to find higher ground. When help eventually arrives and Morgan leads the party to the spot on the trail, the body is gone. Almost before Morgan arrives back home, the town’s gossip is making the rounds. By the time Morgan actually leaves the shop and goes into town, townfolks know who she is, and what she witnessed.
By constantly upping what can go wrong in the protagonist’s life, the author kept me turning the pages. I didn’t feel an urgency to keep reading, but more of a desire to find out what came next. The author didn't disappoint. I totally enjoyed how the author wove her experience with Colorado’s landscape, donkeys, and old rocks into this fun amateur sleuth mystery. I’d love to read more about Houdini and Adelaide, as they were quite funny characters themselves and were quite involved in everything that was happening. The ending fit the story and wasn't what I expected. Very well written with a fresh voice.
I found the details about community 5Ks intriguing, as I started participating in races this year. The details were spot-on and immersed me more into the story. The unique characters made me feel at home and I’d love to stop in “Bibi’s” for some fresh bread.
This is Catherine’s first novel in her new Rock Shop Mystery series. She’s had short fiction published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
Stone Cold Dead is entertaining to read. I enjoyed the mix of western scenery, small town life, adventures of a newbie to 5K run/walks, and the donkey antics, among other ‘gems’ in the story. It’s a great read for fans of amateur sleuths. I also enjoyed that I finished reading it during a snow storm in December and was grateful the storm wasn’t like the one at the book’s climax. I think this would be a fun book for a book group.
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Publish date: Dec. 2013