A truly delightful police procedural, with trope within a trope. How cool is that! What the heck are you talking about, I hear you saying. OK, we have the stranded travelers at an inn in a raging snowstorm trope within the basic police procedural trope. What a clever book!
Our protagonist, Chief of Police of Mapleton, not too far from Denver, has eye problems. His doc recommends a break from the stress of Police Chiefing, so our boy heads out to a B & B which is way the frig out in rural nowheresville Tranquility Valley. Seems like a fine idea, but the main squeeze could not accompany him because of her own business activities. Oh, well. Good time to relax. Except for that snowstorm. And the guy who comes pounding on the door in the middle of it, frantic because his car hit an Elk, was stuck, and his wife was in the car. He walked about an hour or so to reach some civilization, ie the B&B, to get help.
Our hero takes the mysterious visitor back out to where the car was, emphasis on the WAS, only to find that it had slid, been pushed, who knows what, down the steep embankment. After scrambling down to rescue the little wifey, to their dismay they find the vehicle empty. M.P.T. Nobody in it. What happened to the wife? No purse, no luggage. Holy Yeti, Batman.
They go back to the B&B to call the state police, and while waiting for help, there came upon the door another knock from yet another mysterious stranger. Shades of “It was a dark and stormy night.” Whooeeee.
Meanwhile ….. (you didn’t think that was ALL, did you?) …… the state trooper talking to our incognito police chief tells him that in the other direction on that same road was a major tie up because somebody shot out a tire of a traveling pickup truck, then just for good measure, shot the driver in the head. Okaaaay. This vacation is starting to look less like a vacation and more like the daily grind.
The book has some mighty fine characters, including an odd woman blogger, (HEY! Stop looking at me.), an obsessive outdoorsman, a really cool second to our Police Chief in Ed Solomon, and the sweet patooty of Chief Hepler. She has a restaurant and a catering business and they are not far enough along in their relationship to live in sin yet, so they each have their own place.
Cool convoluted interweaving of the people involved in all this, and the ending, while not jaw dropping, was nicely satisfactory.
It was a police procedural mystery the way they are SUPPOSED to be. We die hard mystery fans don’t like our mysteries getting too far off track. There is a convention to these things, a certain pattern that comforts us. Don’t mess with that. We can get nasty.