Yay!! Everyone's favorite spicey housewife, Jessica, is back--after taking a hiatus to, oh, I don't know--live her very busy life with her very large and incredibly good-looking family. But she's back to hosting her popular on-line book club (once weekly, now monthly) called What We're Reading Wednesday.
I hope the other link-ups will not be too offended when I say that WWRW is my favorite link-up of all the ones I've been exposed to in the blogosphere. (But I mean, I just really like books. I like to read them, to talk about them, to re-read them, and then to talk about them some more. Does that make me a nerdy bookworm? If so, I wear the badge proudly! Proudly, I tell you!)
Murder is not really a subject about which I normally like to read, on Wednesday or any day of the week. But that was before I met Amy M. Bennett, the author behind the compelling Black Horse Campground Mysteries series. (And by "met," I mean became friends with on-line, via an introduction from some mutual friends of ours, books.) I've never read any Agatha Christie mysteries, but I wonder if these books are the modern-day equivalent of those classics.
A while back, I read Amy's first novel (which was the first installment of the Black Horse Campground Mysteries), End of the Road, and you can see the review I wrote for that gem in this 2013 WWRW blog post.
Not too long ago, I read the second book in the series, No Lifeguard on Duty.
And all I can say is Amy M. Bennett has done it again!
It was another edge-of-your seat page-turner, and here's the 5-star review I posted on Amazon and Goodreads yesterday:
I recently finished Amy M. Bennett's second novel in the Black Horse Campground Mystery series, No Lifeguard on Duty, and I have to say this: Bennett has done it again--she's taken a reader who was once very skeptical of the merits of the whole mystery/suspense genre and turned me into a fan!
This author has identified her books as belonging to a particular sub-group of the mystery genre known as the "cozy mystery" wherein the reader becomes acquainted with a certain town (in this case, Ruidoso in Bonney County, NM) and gets to know its inhabitants very well, and therefore becomes invested in their lives--almost as if they are well-known and much-loved friends. The reader develops a cozy familiarity with the Black Horse Campground and the cast of quirky and unique characters who live and work there.
After I finished the first book in the series, End of the Road, I was itching to find out what would happen to these people I'd come to know and love. Would Corrie Black, the beautiful yet down-to-earth and humble owner of the campground, end up with Sheriff Rick Sutton, the old beau who once broke her heart but really loves Corrie, yet can't act on his feelings because he's a divorced Catholic whose marriage has yet to be annulled; or would she end up with the intriguing newcomer to the area, J.D. Wilder, a former law enforcement officer with a mysterious past who keeps his distance because he's aware of the Sheriff's feelings? (In many novels, there is a clear-cut "good guy" for whom the reader must root; but both of these characters are fine, upstanding men who treat Corrie with gentlemanly respect.)
My mother-in-law use to watch "Murder, She Wrote," the T.V. show equivalent of the "cozy mystery," and my husband used to tease her about her obsession with violent crimes. "And why would anyone in his right mind stay in the same hotel as Angela Lansbury anyway?" he'd say. "Someone always ends up dead!" That's true of the Black Horse Campground, too--yikes, Corrie's business seems to be jinxed by bad luck, with two murders committed on the property already during one camping season! But without the murder mysteries that need solving, readers of Bennett's series wouldn't have the pleasure of watching Rick and J.D.--Corrie's would-be suitors, who are partners as well as rivals--team up to find the culprits, and while doing so, bend over backwards trying to help and protect the woman they both love.
Bennett's two Black Horse Campground Mysteries are page-turners, with lots of plot twists and turns. But the best thing about them is that they're so cozy. And they keep you wondering: which man will Corrie end up with? The third book in Bennett's series, No Vacancy, is due out soon. I can only hope that it will solve THAT mystery, once and for all!
(And for the record, before I sign off: Bennett's main characters are practicing Catholics, and it's nice to see them carrying out their faith simply and beautifully--going to Mass, keeping their relationships chaste outside of marriage--when so many characters in modern fiction are portrayed as being anti-religion, or even anti-God).
Okay, are you looking for some more good book recommendations? Then head on over to Housewifespice. Because Jessica's back! (But I told you that, right?)