Cozy Review: Spring Upon a Crime

 


Spring Upon a Crime (A Seattle Wilderness Mystery)by ML Erdahl

About Spring Upon A Crime

 

Spring Upon a Crime (A Seattle Wilderness Mystery) 

Cozy Mystery2nd in Series 

Publisher: Wild Rose Press (January 13, 2021) 

Paperback: 294 pages 

ISBN-10: 1509234608 

ISBN-13: 978-1509234608 

Digital ASIN: B08P87F6J1 

Wilderness guide Crystal Rainey leads a group of college students to a private campground amidst the awe-inspiring Olympic Rain Forest. The excursion is ruined when the charming hostess Roxie is discovered standing over the land owner's body, murder weapon in hand.

Enlisted to investigate the crime to absolve her friend, Crystal descends on the quiet city of Forks to find loggers, developers, and eco-protesters circling the property, intent on either exploiting or protecting the bastion of old-growth forest. The list of suspects is intimidating. Can Crystal find answers in a community determined to keep her in the dark?

 
My Review:
I have to say it: this book was totally worth it just for the scene where the main character and her side-kick interview a buck-naked eco-warrior on a tree platform. Still, that's not the only reason to read it. The characters are engaging and the rain forest lovingly depicted. I enjoyed scenes both in the forest and in Seattle, with an extra bonus for places I know and could recognize.

That said, I wasn't 100% happy with the book. Some aspects of the story failed to carry conviction, and I was impatient with those moments that struck me as "off" as I always am. Still, those were not plot-busting issues, and in the end the story pulled me in so that I had to read through to the end in a rush. I enjoyed the touches of humor and about the right amount of tension and excitement. The clues to the killer were there, and I suspected who it was, but certainly didn't tumble to the complexity of the motivations.

The writing is solid and well-edited.

My Recommendation:
A feel-good easy read, this can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts and city-slickers alike.

 

 Now, an interview with Author ML Erdahl! (We were down for a character interview, but I sent the wrong questions, so enjoy meeting the author!).

Thanks for coming by for an interview, ML! Let’s start at the beginning: when did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, or did you stumble into it later in life? 

In sixth grade I had a three page assignment to create my own Greek myth, and I turned in twelve pages worth of writing.  I think I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. Over the years, I dabbled with short stories for myself and my friends, and began at least four novels that never got past twenty pages.  However, it wasn’t until my early forties that I began to take it seriously.  I joined a writing association, read books on the craft, and began to write in earnest. The rest is history.

 

What are your books about and who is the audience?

My books are cozy mysteries featuring Crystal Rainey, an office worker who jumps off the corporate hamster wheel to pursue her dream job of being a wilderness guide. As luck would have it, she constantly stumbles upon dead bodies, and is invariably roped into solving the murder.

Cozy mysteries are a genre founded by Agatha Christie. They are typically murder mysteries, but the blood and gore happen off-stage. Likewise, the language is relatively clean and the sexy stuff goes on behind the scenes as well. That said, it’s a fun adventure for the reader, since they are meant to solve the crime along with the amateur sleuth who tackles murder case after murder case. If properly written, they are heart-warming, funny, and have what we in the biz call an HEA ending (Happily Ever After.)

 

Now we can get into the fun stuff: What is the strangest job you’ve ever held?

To pay for college, I worked summers in a salmon cannery in the remote Alaskan village of South Nak Nek, where the population of bears outnumbered humans. Trident Seafoods flew us in on tiny six-seater planes to a desolate dirt landing strip and dropped us off in the wilderness, until a van showed up to shuttle us to our bunkhouse.

In consisted of sixteen to twenty hour work days, seven days a week for months. It was terrible and exhausting work, but let me graduate college with no debt. Not surprisingly, this job started my coffee addiction that continues to this day.

 

That’s hard work, for sure. I knew a few people who did that back in the day, but I wasn’t brave enough! After experiences like that, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love where I live in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m going to cheat, and say I want to buy a van and be on the move constantly. Every few weeks or months, I want to pull up stakes and move on to a new adventure.

 

Not a bad ambition, but there are drawbacks. For me, it would be the loss of my garden. Do you garden? And do you focus on vegetables or flowers?

I have both flowers and fruit. Vegetables are too much work, and I always seem to lose them to either insects or the rabbits that sneak under my fence at night. However, I have a raised bed for strawberries, several blueberry bushes, and two dwarf cherry trees that gave me enough of a harvest to have home-grown fruit until the middle of winter.

 

If there’s a spider in the corner of the room, do you a) panic, b) have to drop everything until it is removed, or c) hope it’s planning to eat the more annoying bugs that get in?

When a spider is discovered in my house, my wife panics and yells for me to come “Right Now!” The dogs and cat run around in a frenzy at the noise, and I sprint as fast as I can to gently and humanely escort the spider out of the house and admonish it to please stay outside or get better at hiding.

 

Very good advice for the spider!

On to writing technique: Do you draft your books longhand or compose at the keyboard?

I find that my creative juices flow much better when I write longhand. When finished, I turn over my pages (with gosh-awful handwriting) to my patient and talented-typist wife, who enters the first-draft into the computer.

 

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for one of your books?

Oh my gosh, so much murder related material. Like all mystery writers, if someone I know turns up suspiciously dead, I’m headed to the slammer for sure.

 

We mystery writers all worry about the FBI showing up at our doors!

More technique: Do you use a detailed outline before you start writing, or... ?

I am what is classified as a “plantser.” I sketch out a minimalist outline (minimalist sounds so much nicer than half-assed, don’t you think?), and begin writing. Midway through, I pause and revise my outline, because my story invariably veers off in an unexpected direction. I find that if I let that happen organically, the story will write itself much better than if I force it down my pre-determined path.

 

Good advice about the mid-way pause and revision of the outline! I’ve become pretty big on the outline, but still end up needing changes, so agree it’s a good idea to let the story develop and adjust the outline to go on from there.

 

Thanks again for coming by and sharing a bit about yourself with my readers!

  

About ML Erdahl

Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be pet and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he's not working away in front of a computer, you can find him gardening, hiking, or grumbling to his wife, Emily, about the perpetual Northwest winter rain that prevents him from going outside.

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Book 1 in this Series




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