When Jessie O’Bourne is asked to stand in, at the last minute for an indisposed friend, as guest artist at the annual Crooked Creek Art Expo in Montana, she is thrilled to do so. Travelling in her beloved RV, she’s nicknamed Hawk, along with her ‘ornery, ginger tom cat, the King Jack Dempsey, she is excited about the opportunity to present her work, run some workshops, and possibly sell some of her paintings at the Expo. Although she lives and paints in Santa Fe, these days, Jessie is a born and bred Montanan, coming from just up the road from Crooked Creek, in Sage Bluff. She knows she will run into many old friends at the expo, both from Montana, as well as among the group of fellow artists who tour the Art Expos of the Mid-west, as part of their business. What she doesn’t expect is that she will be caught up in a murder-mystery that just gets deeper and odder, the further she delves into it. This is the scenario Mary Ann Cherry presents us, the readers, with, in her murder mystery, Death at Crooked Creek. Currently sworn off men, after a messy encounter with FBI Agent, Grant Kennedy and a difficult breakup with her childhood sweetheart, Russell Bonham, now sheriff of Sage Bluff, Jessie certainly does not expects the romance that comes her way in this story, either.
I’ve read a few murder mysteries in my time, but few of them have been as cleverly crafted, with as many red-herrings thrown in, as this story, Death at Crooked Creek, by Mary Ann Cherry. This is superbly written, with as plot that takes you on twists and turns you don’t expect and leaves you guessing, or even better makes you think you know, “whodunit” before the actual reveal. I loved the artistic setting of the story and the fact that the author, an artist of note herself, was able to inject her knowledge into the story naturally and without artifice. As someone who struggles to draw a stick-figure, I could really appreciate the skill and artistry of the characters, described in the story. The book is so easy to read that I just kept going, effectively finishing the story in one long sitting. I’ve never read any of this author’s work before, but this book has definitely awakened my interest in her writing and I will be checking out what else she has published. I cannot pay this author any higher compliment than to say, I want to read more about Jessie O’Bourne’s crime-solving adventures. I note there are currently two Jessie O’Bourne books in the marketplace and I can only hope there are more on the way. A highly-recommended read.