Ring in the Year with Murder (Otter Lake Mystery #4) Review
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Each winter, as we ring in another new year, many of us take the time to reflect on the past year and resolve to make a fresh start. But the heroine in Ring in the Year with Murder, the fourth Otter Lake Mystery by author Auralee Wallace, finds her New Year’s resolutions falling apart before the new year even begins.

The story returns to Otter Lake, New Hampshire, where Erica Bloom and her best friend, Freddie, have been hired to keep an eye out for trouble at the historical society’s New Year’s Eve party. Erica is determined to have a great night, despite the fact that she’s almost guaranteed to run into her ex, Sheriff Grady Forrester, and his too-sweet girlfriend. But when the night takes a potentially deadly turn, Erica and Freddie find themselves following both leads and town gossip to track down a would-be killer and keep everyone at the party alive.

Though the third Otter Lake Mystery, Snowed In with Murder, took Erica away from her usual band of quirky characters, the fourth installment is back to more of its lovably wacky ways, mixing another small-town mystery with plenty of laughs.

Ring in the Year with Murder actually starts on the morning after, when Erica and Freddie wake up with just a few fuzzy memories on New Year’s Day and set out to piece together the previous night’s events—which gives the story an extra layer of mystery. And, as is generally the case when Erica and Freddie are involved, those events are pretty wild and crazy. There’s some eavesdropping, attempted murder, lots of romantic tension, a sick dog, and a death-defying adventure out on the roof. This isn’t a mystery that takes itself too seriously (or even the slightest bit seriously). It’s over-the-top and wacky—and readers with find themselves chuckling their way through chapter after chapter.

Still, not all of the series regulars play a large part in this installment. Erica’s hippie mom makes just a couple of brief appearances—and the troublemaking twins, Kit Kat and Tweety, also remain in the background. Grady, too, disappears for much of the story—but that allows Erica to spend some time trying to figure out her feelings both for him and for the party’s rich, handsome host, Matthew. But even though it still isn’t back to the level of small-town quirkiness of earlier books in the series, it’s still a wild holiday whodunit.

If the craziness of another holiday season has you desperate for a fun-filled escape from reality, this wild and cozy mystery offers an easy-going story and plenty of over-the-top laughs. After another day of shopping and baking and gift-wrapping, treat yourself to some extra reading time—and a heaping plate of Christmas cookies, too. You’ve earned it.

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