Snowed In with Murder (Otter Lake Mysteries #3) Review
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It didn’t take long for author Auralee Wallace’s Otter Lake Mysteries series to establish itself as the kind of wild and wacky cozy series for mystery readers in need of a good, solid laugh. But with the third book, Snowed In with Murder, the series takes a troubling turn.

The story returns to Otter Lake, New Hampshire, with Chicago court stenographer Erica Bloom. She’s determined to patch things up with Sheriff Grady Forrester, who dumped her over the phone after her Christmas visit ended in a less-than-festive manner. But with a winter storm approaching the area, Grady is called in to batten down the hatches in town. To make matters worse, Erica’s flighty mom has rented out her retreat to a reality TV show, and when the unpleasant family’s patriarch is murdered, Erica ends up trapped on the island with a killer and a bunch of spoiled TV socialites.

The first two books in the Otter Lake series (Skinny Dipping with Murder and Pumpkin Picking with Murder) were fun-filled cozy mysteries, following a reluctant sleuth as she juggles her New Age-y mom, her eccentric best friend, her budding relationship with the sheriff, and some sort of murder investigation. This time around, though, the most lovable parts of the series are almost entirely stripped away, leaving little more than a bunch of obnoxious characters and a murder mystery.

In this third installment, Erica spends most of the adventure on her own. Erica’s mom has disappeared. Their quirky neighbors have gone to visit family. Erica’s bestie, Freddie, is weathering the storm at home. And Grady is off doing his job. Erica, then, is forced to think about the mistakes she’s made with Grady (which, to be honest, don’t seem entirely unreasonable) while surrounded by a bunch of irritating reality TV stars.

Sure, there’s another mystery here—but, other than the fact that Erica’s life is at risk, readers won’t feel connected to much of the story. The characters are selfish and spoiled and annoying, and it’s hard to care about their fate. Though the events that play out do push Erica to make some important decisions about her relationships and her future—and the end takes the series in a new direction—it’s lacking in the humor and kooky small resort town charm of earlier books.

Though fans of the Otter Lake series may be eager to pick up the third installment, Snowed In with Murder is a difficult read—one that isn’t nearly as crazy and fun-filled as its predecessors. It’s probably best to skip this one and hope for the best with the next book in the series.

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