Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Illegally Dead by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Sumach Press (October 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894549740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894549745

Product Description

This isn't the first time travel-writer Elizabeth Oliver finds herself smack in the middle of a murder investigation. Crime seems to follow her around as closely as her cockapoo companion Chevy. Determined to focus entirely on her work this trip, she sets out to travel the length of Alberta's Crowsnest Highway to research a new travel article. But no sooner has she settled into travel writing mode than she is flagged down at a roadside crime scene. Human bones have just been discovered in an old septic tank on a property slated to be used for a new hog barn development.

Resisting the temptation to get involved, she arrives at her B&B only to find that her hostess' mother Peggy used to own the septic tank property, and may know more about the situation than she's letting on. Now thoroughly drawn into events, Elizabeth gives free rein to her investigative tendencies. After meeting a few more of the locals, she sets herself to sifting through small-town rumours and poking into the family's past, raising questions about the long-ago disappearance of Peggy's abusive husband. But could the kindhearted Peggy just be a victim of a crude prank? After all, she is still receiving nasty phone calls from by a group of locals who've been protesting her sellout to the developers. But the gloves are off and things become infinitely more complicated when long-buried secrets from the past begin to surface and a second murder victim is found.

Elizabeth's investigations are interrupted when her younger sister has a serious breast cancer scare, and she works hurriedly to wrap up her journey and return home. But in an unexpected twist, her travel research may provide the clues that help her finally reveal the disturbing truth of the skeleton's identity. Packed with suspense and with the exciting history of the Crowsnest Pass area, Illegally Dead will delight mystery lovers and Canadian history enthusiasts alike.

My Review

This is a captivating mystery from new-to-me author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey.  Illegally Dead is the first book in a series that also includes The Only Shadow in the House and Whistler's Murder.  This book is not only a murder mystery but also a travelogue of the Crowsnest Highway in Southern Alberta.  I have actually never been to this area so that aspect of the book was incredibly interesting to me.  Who wouldn't want to learn more about a place called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. And it was interesting to learn the story behind the name of the city of Medicine Hat.

Besides all of the interesting travel information there is a riveting mystery that kept me guessing until the conclusion.  The story abounds with interesting characters.  I love that older people were consulted when our sleuth and travel writer Elizabeth Oliver was conducting her research...people often forget that the older generation has plenty of stories to tell and have often kept quite a few secrets over the years.  

Great Canadian mystery!!! I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

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