Thursday, November 5, 2020

Trouble in Diablo Canyon (Will Travel for Trouble #15). by Minnie Crockwell (author), Michelle Babb (narrator)

Minnie Crockwell, October 2020

Minnie and Ben have just arrived at the Diablo Canyon Ranch, planning a relaxing stay and, for Minnie, her first experience of tent camping.

This time, Minnie won't have to explain how she happened to discover a dead body, because the victim has already died, on the morning's trail ride. Tammy, the daughter of the dude ranch's owners, has ridden back with the news, just as Minnie is checking in. Herman Schmitt was a regular visit to the ranch, and this time he'd brought his much younger wife of just six months, Betsy. The staff and other guests on the ride think he likely had a heart attack, but of course police come, as well as an ambulance, when Cass and Bill Landry, the owners, call 911. Nothing for Minnie to investigate this time, right?

But the police can't say it's a natural death until the medical examiner has done his job.

Meanwhile, Minnie and Ben are having their own disturbing problem. Since they arrived at Diablo Canyon, ghostly Ben has lost his slowly gained substantiality. He and Minnie can no longer touch; he can walk through things again; he and Minnie can communicate silently again, and only silently. He can hear her thoughts again.

Developments of the last few months had had them hoping that Ben might become completely substantial. Now, they're back to square one.

But while they worry about that problem, and everyone waits on the verdict of the medical examiner on Herman Schmitt's death, Minnie can't help learning quite a bit about their fellow guests. And it turns out that there are a lot of connections among them that aren't obvious and mostly aren't being mentioned, except under the influence of Minnie's rather effective and non-judgmental conversation.

Betsy signed a prenuptial agreement, and if she divorced her elderly husband, she would have gotten nothing. Hector and Juanita Guerrero's son Ramon, who works at the ranch as a wrangler, is involved with Tammy, and Juanita strongly disapproves for reasons that aren't at all obvious. The other wrangler, Wyatt, has his own secret history that ties him to Herman Schmitt.

That's a small sample, and it all becomes much more interesting when the medical examiner determines that Herman Schmitt died from the delayed effects of a blow to the head, perhaps as much as a day earlier.

And Minnie keeps learning more about her fellow guests. Betsy isn't the only one with a possible motive for murder. With the best of intentions, she can't seem to make herself leave and let the police solve this murder, despite her original intention for a really relaxing week of tent camping.

It's a lot of fun, and the characters are interesting, even if an impressive percentage are not all that likable. An enjoyable, light mystery, with Minnie and Ben's relationship continuing to unfold.


I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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