I read the first book in Sarah Dreher’s much-loved mystery series in April. Stoner McTavish is an insecure butch lesbian, travel-agent and reluctant detective. In this first outing, a friend of her eccentric aunt Hermione persuades her to investigate the man who’s married her granddaughter, Gwen. This results in Stoner following the couple on honeymoon to the Grand Teton National Park where she soon finds herself and Gwen in peril.
I really enjoyed the book, even though I thought it had quite a few flaws. I’ll get the criticism out of the way first. It felt a bit long for the amount of plot and the villain was very two-dimensional. This might be a personal thing, but I also found the tone a bit off because the cosiness of the mystery seemed to jar with the nastiness of the homophobic and misogynist abuse experienced by Stoner. Honestly, I found the love interest, Gwen, pretty bland too – she’s just kind of the “perfect woman”. Maybe she’ll get more interesting in the later books.
But the charm and humour outweighed the novel’s weaknesses. Stoner is delightful. Her insecurities can be little much at times, but we’ve all known (or been) someone like that. Dreher is very good at writing quirky characters, witty dialogue and at creating a rich sense of place. I wanted to go and stay at the hotel in the park and sit by the fire drinking coffee.
Overall, a fun read and I’ll be trying the next book, Something Shady in which Stoner must go undercover in a rest home.