Crazy Mountain Kiss

Although it's April, there is still snow in the high mountains of Montana, so writer Max Gallagher decides to light a fire in the fireplace of his rented cabin. Unfortunately, there turns out to be a recently dead girl in the chimney: Cinderella Huntingdon, a teenage rodeo star who went missing five months previously.

In Crazy Mountain Kiss, Keith McCafferty (Dead Man's Fancy) reunites private investigator Sean Stranahan and Sheriff Martha Ettinger who work together (somewhat awkwardly, given their former romantic history) to investigate Cindy's disappearance and death, and where she could have been in the intervening months. Cindy's stepfather has tried to move on since she vanished, but her mother, Etta, a famous rodeo rider in her own right, has been engulfed by grief. Despite their different reactions, Cindy's friends and family appear to all be equally stymied as to why she would have been in hiding for five months, and how she ended up in the chimney.

Sure to appeal to fans of western mystery writers like Craig Johnson, Crazy Mountain Kiss brings oddball, isolated Montanan culture to life. McCafferty adds to the novel's rugged landscape a full set of quirky, outsized personalities and some slapstick humor, which offsets Cindy's sad story. And while it is fourth in the Sean Stranahan series, Crazy Mountain Kiss can easily be read as a standalone, since McCafferty nicely sums up pertinent information from earlier books. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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