Dark Night by Paige Shelton (Mystery)

Writing: 3/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5

Number three in the Beth Rivers / Benedict, Alaska series from Paige Shelton. This series is slightly different in that while each book has its own set of dead bodies to explore, there is an overarching, longer term mystery centering on our heroine. Beth Rivers is her birth name, but she is better known as Elizabeth Fairchild — a famous author of thrillers. She is in hiding from a man who kidnapped and tortured her for three long days before she managed to break free — and each book gets us closer to understanding who this man is, where he might be, and how she can stay safely hidden until he is apprehended.

This is a cozy — just enough action to keep my interest and not enough tension to keep me awake at night. I like the quirky characters in this remote Alaskan town. I’m guessing there isn’t really a lot of verisimilitude in the story, but it’s fun to read. In addition to our brave and yet terrified heroine, we have a retired special ops, Willie Nelson lookalike running the library, a tough-as-nails woman running a halfway house for female parolees, a new love interest named Tex, and Beth’s newly appeared mother about whom one could write an entire novel.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two — the author spends a little too much time (IMHO) doing a thorough rehash of previous events.

A great beach / plane read.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published tomorrow (Dec. 7, 2021).

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton (Mystery)

Writing: 3.5/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4.5/5

I’m loving this new (to me) mystery series. Thin Ice is book one which I’m reading out of order after enjoying the pre-release of book two (Cold Wind). Beth Rivers has run away to the small (fictional) town of Benedict, Alaska to hide from her still-on-the-loose kidnapper. Growing up with the local police chief (her grandfather), she has a talent for crime scene measurement and an education in deduction. She is also a well-known (by pseudonym) crime novelist. All make her useful in helping solve cases in her new (temporary?) home. The plots of both books blend the solving of a current murder with Beth’s slow memory recall of her harrowing kidnapping experience and the search for the perpetrator.

So what attracts me to this series? I love the descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness; I love the lack of filler and just-the-right-level and not over-the-top amount of tension; but mostly I love the characters who populate the town: Viola, the tough-as-nails manager of the halfway house; Orin, the peace-sign flashing librarian and computer genius; Gril, the relocated Chicagoan grizzled police chief; and others. This reminds me of what I originally loved about the Louise Penny novels — characters that I can both admire and like!

The writing is decent — clear, not full of fluff, moves along. I like the straightforward, first person tone — as she is telling the story Beth admits to her ignorance, reflects on how she is handling things and what she needs to do to improve, and what she is thinking when she moves forward with “stupid” decisions.

I haven’t tried her other series but I’ll probably give them a try!

Cold Wind by Paige Shelton (Mystery)

Plot: 4/5 Characters: 3.5/5 Writing: 3/5

I enjoyed this book — the first Paige Shelton book for me (although it looks like she has written a ton of mysteries across multiple series). I’m a sucker for interesting settings, and I love reading stories that take place in the more remote parts of Alaska. The writing was decent, the characters interesting enough for me to care, and I found the plot intricate and not terribly predictable. I was particularly happy that the book didn’t have a lot of filler which is something I find in a lot of genre fiction — especially when the authors are on their umpteenth episode and appear to have run out of fresh ideas. This was fun, I read it quickly, and I was able to read it at night (not an edge-of-your-seat thriller which is absolutely fine with me!)

This was number two in her Alaska series — I haven’t read number one and was able to figure everything out just fine (but may go back and read the first!)

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on December 1st, 2020.