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by C S Challinor
Midnight Ink, March 2011
197 pages
ISBN: 0738719811

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Rex Graves is looking forward to his first party at Gleneagle Lodge. His girlfriend Helen d'Arcy is there with him, and the company is presumed to be convivial, with the possible exception of a "duty couple" foisted on Rex by his mother. Then it starts raining. A lot. To make matters worse, an unexpected guest shows up with no way to return to the village. Moira is the woman who dumped him for orphans in Africa and then for a married man. She doesn't seem to know that he has moved on, and she can be a very charming woman when it suits her. Tonight, apparently, it suits her.

Due to the rain and the condition of the roads, everyone winds up staying the night. This makes for some shifting around of rooms, some juggling of accommodations, sharing of bathrooms and so on. Moira goes off to take a bath, and nobody can use that room for the rest of the night. Rex is unaware of this until the next morning, when he has to climb a ladder to get in and unlock the door. Moira is nowhere to be found until some of the guests go off in a boat to look for the possible Nessie in Rex's loch. They find no monster, just a very drowned Moira.

There is no possible permutation of Moira's actions that doesn't lead to the conclusion that she was murdered.

The police are unable to help. Even if the rain didn't make it difficult to get to Gleneagle, every available officer is out on the moors looking for the body of a young girl. When she is found, they are all looking for the man who killed her. One of Rex's guests is the man who failed to convict someone that everyone was convinced had killed another little girl. The pressure is on Rex to find Moira's killer.

This is the fourth in Challinor's series featuring Rex Graves. While it is not necessary to read them in order, one would probably have a greater feel for the characters if one were to do that. Rex's relationship with Helen grows; in the next book in the series (MURDER UNVEILED; the first chapter is included in MOOR) Helen and Rex are engaged. Challinor's feel for setting is very good, as is her plotting. As spring approaches, it's a pleasure to read about someplace with worse weather than here. The good writing is a delight as well.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, March 2011

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