CRUELEST MONTH by Aaron Stander

cruelest monthRemember the mystery series set in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula with the kayaking Sheriff Ray Elkins?  I talked about Death in a Summer Colony here.   Well, this one, Cruelest Month,  is actually the book before Death in a Summer Colony.  But they are really all stand alones, and although there are references to other cases, the development of the characters does not change all that much, so it is OK.

I enjoyed this one more than the other one.  I liked that there were actually two mysteries going on at the same time, because, yeah, I can’t ever solve one mystery per book so I need to up my game.

Well, an old fart  octogenarian has self-published a book about treasure sites where Al Capone buried a lot of loot during prohibition that has never been found.  That sets off a bit of treasure hunting by the locals and some tourists in this upper Michigan area.

A mason jar containing $10,000 is dug up by a dog, and the elderly woman on whose property it was found is astounded, but turns it into the Sheriff’s department.  I would never have done that.  Are you kidding?  Do I look stupid?  Don’t answer that.

Well, the elderly author of the book and some of his compatriots go to a local casino every week, and he – miracle of miracles – wins $6000.  Whoo hooo.  He immediately peels off $4,000 for one of his friends who wants to go see his mother but cannot afford the trip.  Then the old guy goes missing, and is found in a ditch, murdered.  Murdered for $2,000?  For the book?  Nobody has a clue.

Well, if that isn’t mystery enough for Sheriff Elkins, there’s a new chick in town.  She has come to wreck vengeance on the men who tried to rape her and killed her brother who intervened, twenty some years ago.  Does she succeed?   Does it do anything to solve the murder of a young man twenty years ago found washed up on the nearby shores of the town and pronounced a suicide?  And what has this go to do with the murder of the old geezer elderly author?   And how come this small area of the Upper Peninsula seems to have so many murders?  Damn, it’s got a higher crime rate per capita than Chicago!

So between kayaking, and bonking the lady doctor who is also a kayaking enthusiast, (how fortunate can you get — kayaking AND amorous congress) looks like the good Sheriff definitely has his hands full.

Enjoyable.  I like this kind of book.  But really, even if the cover says it is a thriller, it really isn’t.  You will not be thrilled.  But you will be entertained.


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