Monday, November 21, 2016

First Degree Mudder (A Pacific Northwest Mystery)

Author:  Kate Dyer-Seeley
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781496705099
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
November 29, 2016

Five Stars

When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean...

Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level.  Lesser journalists sling mud - Meg plans to run through it.  To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she's signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ - and former drill sergeant - Billy the Tank.  But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far.  Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.  Meg will have to tread carefully, though - or she may soon be running for her life...

Meg Reed is a journalist for Extreme magazine, and as such has found her niche in life - writing about the grueling experiences she puts herself through.  Unfortunately, with each new experience she's apparently found herself in sticky situations, and the current one is no different.  With a new idea at hand, she's training for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5k run that actually involves mud.  It's run by Billy the Tank, an ex-drill sergeant who believes in pushing his clients hard.  Unfortunately, after a particularly tough workout, Meg decides to hit the sauna in the locker room and instead hits something else when she finds Billy's dead body.

While there's no denying Billy wasn't the friendly type, she still can't understand why someone would want him dead.  The people who signed up didn't know him well enough to have a grudge against him, or did someone sign up to get revenge?  Meg begins to look at her team partners differently, wondering if one of them isn't such a team player after all.

On top of this, she discovers that her life is about to change, and she's not happy about those changes.  Everyone from her best friend, her mother and her job are causing her to rethink things she's been avoiding, to make decisions she never thought she'd have to even face, and there's a policeman involved in the murder investigation that would like to do some investigating of his own - with Mary Margaret Reed.

This was truly an entertaining read, and although I'd never consider doing a mud run myself (I don't even like to eat messy food) I still enjoyed reading about the event.  I also liked the way Meg interacted with Jill and Matt, even though the scenes were fairly brief.  Meg's burst of courage was the nicest thing to see, without her having put herself in danger.

The plot was well thought out and I was delighted to see that it was a new twist on an old subject.  But what really made the book were the subplots that were happening in the background, the ones that will eventually change Meg's life in unknown ways.

This is the fourth book in the series, and in my opinion, the best one yet.  Ms. Dyer-Seeley has given us another winner.  When we come to the end and everything comes together, it is both satisfying and bittersweet.  It is about endings and beginnings, and changes to come.  In other words, it is about life.  This is indeed the hallmark of a well-written book, and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

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