Snowed In With Death by Ruby Loren is described as a Holly Winter mystery. I received it from Instafreebie through an author mailing list but it also available for the purchase price of FREE from Amazon. Seven detectives are scheduled to be at a resort for a detective convention. Holly is not one of the detectives but she is a detective groupie and she has won a contest by which she was invited as a guest observer at the convention. Struggling to get to the convention through a blinding snowstorm and arriving at the resort to face immediate isolation from the outside world gave Holly a feeling of uneasiness. Given that all the detectives would in turn experience either death or near death, Holly will probably rethink further convention invitations.
This story closely mirrors And Then There Were None, a 1939 publication by Agatha Christie. The author acknowledges the contribution of Agatha Christie when choosing as one of the instruments of intended mayhem a book by Agatha Raisin. In the earlier work, I did not find a lot of humor or attempts at humor. In this novel, Holly has a rather weird sense of humor presented in both dialogue and her behavior. Her utterances are wry, tongue-in-cheek humor. Her strange behavior is that she calmly accepts that everyone is going to die, including her, even though she is not a detective.
Not all detectives invited to the convention show up. Tom March doesn’t appear and, as other detectives expire in turn, Tom becomes a logical suspect. This gathering has become an annual event sponsored by event organizer Missy. This year Missy and prize winner Holly will be the non-detective members present. The other six detectives will gather to describe their recent successful investigations and lay claim to the internally created title “Best Detective in the World.” This is not a friendly gathering. Disparaging remarks about colleague achievements abound. There appears to be actual hatred between some of the members; the feelings never fall below the level of jealousy.
Pete Black is the first to die. He was stabbed after earlier defending his role in an investigation involving schoolgirls. He hadn’t slept with any of them outside the requirements of his undercover mission.
Lawrence is the second to die, killed by a shot to the head during a power outage when the lights went out. He was never clear when talking about his cases. Everything was classified.
Lydia was the third to die. She had solved the “Lipstick Murders.” It seemed fitting that she had died in a cloud of poison perfume.
Fourth to die was Jack, a former military type. It seemed fitting that while he was trying to leave the snowbound cabin, he would step on a landmine.
Fifth to die was Missy, the event organizer. She died from eating poison cake, strange because she was responsible for food at the event. Also, she was not a detective. It was probably at this point that Holly, also not a detective, got really scared.
Emma White had solved the “Tommy Gun” murders. As she was checking on something upstairs, those downstairs heard machine gun fire. Emma was found dead, the sixth attendee to die.
There are not many suspects left. The reader will learn the identity of the killer; it will be a surprise. I cannot see how anyone could guess this ending based on all information available and presented to the reader. This ending is a definite departure from the Agatha Christie novel.
Character development is nicely done but it may not suit every reader. Holly is obviously the main character but I felt she was a bobble head, a holdover from a California based Valley Girl culture. She lives completely on the surface. Her humorous interjections can be viewed as uninformed and vacuous. Or they might be viewed as clever. My opinion is that she is an unaware character reacting to immediate input. So this may be one more mystery for the reader to contemplate. Who is Holly?
And, by the way, who is killing all these detectives? And Why? And who survives? And how? So many things to consider in this light, entertaining, sixty-page novella.