A Cassandra Cassidy mystery
by Betty McMahon
Plot Summary:Photographer Cassandra Cassidy landed in the picturesque northern Minnesota town of Colton Mills, and started photographing weddings to pay the bills, but got her creative kicks making portraits of some noble, and some not-so-noble Indians on and off the nearby rez.
The Duluth, Minnesota newspaper hired Cassandra to cover a local 1830s Rendezvous reenactment. There would be trappers, mountain men and, of course, Indians. So Cassandra and her cameras headed north -- not knowing that her nemesis Eric Hartfield, a defrocked newspaper reporter, was heading there as well.
Not long after settling in and photographing some of the Rendezvous’ colorful characters, she and Eric crossed paths and exchanged some scathing words on the very public Rendezvous grounds. She would live to regret her parting taunt to Eric: “The next time I see you, I’ll fire two warning shots – straight into your head!”
The sheriff took their verbal scuffle into account after Cassandra discovered Eric in an Indian sweat lodge outside the grounds—with a tomahawk buried in his skull. Eric was well beyond any future such scuffles.
But a dead Eric may have the last laugh over his adversary as Cassandra becomes the main suspect in Eric’s demise. Now she’s up to her f-stops trying to sort out who is responsible.
Can a female photographer-amateur-sleuth, dragged into such a nightmare situation somehow dig herself out – and reveal the real murderer?
Review:A photographer turned amateur sleuth must solve the mystery that increasingly casts suspicion on herself. It's a great premise, and especially the idea of the camera being the one to catch all the little clues that can help solve the mystery is smart. I didn't feel like this story completely delivered on it's promise however. The structure of the mystery felt haphazard, as clues and information were revealed in too many coincidences and in reconnaissances that felt illogical or at least a jump in logic. It made the story feel a little unrealistic and that took me out of the story. I do like mysteries that make you feel that in the end you could have figured it out because the building of it was so methodical and well-designed. With this novel I felt the way the information was presented was too slapdash and rushed sometimes to give a proper perspective on the solution, which made the reveal of the murderer feel like it was shoehorned to fit the expected least likely suspect.
But. Although the mystery is a little flat for me, the characters that made up the small town and Cassandra's list of suspects were well fleshed out and dynamic. There was also a great attention to detail of the reality of people who participate in historical reenactments, photographers and cowboys. I liked the gradual reveal of some of Cassandra's mysterious and troubled background and how she had to use her experiences from her past to deal with her present. As a mystery I wanted more, but as a set-up for a new sleuth series, I think this series shows a lot of promise.
a review was requested by the author