Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: Kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Description: Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch. Marla and Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort. A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems. Is it a coincidence that Dalton's Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When the patriarch asks for their help in finding the culprit. Marla and Dalton eagerly accept. News of a local forest ranger's death raises the stakes, especially when they learn the man was Raymond's friend.
Since sleuthing comes more naturally to Marla than horseback riding, she throws herself into the investigations with her usual zest. But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet. Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds. But Raymond isn't the only one with secrets. The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an old copper mine beneath the ghost town. She'd better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.(from Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: I love a good cozy mystery and this one involves a ghost town!
My Impression: This was my first mystery in the Bad Hair Day series and while the series is quite established I had no problem jumping right in. The mystery starts as Marla and Dalton are just arriving in Arizona and the hunt for the saboteur is immediately on. The history of the region and the mining operations was interesting but not overpowering. The mystery itself was intriguing and I liked how Marla and Dalton really worked together and talked out their theories.
There are several mysteries happening at once but it never felt like it was muddled together or that one was less interesting. I really wanted to find out why Raymond and his sister were estranged, what caused the feud between Raymond and Hugh Donovan, who is sabotaging the ranch and ghost town, and who killed the ranger. The conclusion did not disappoint and I'm pleased to report that there were no TSTL moments! Marla and Dalton did get into some risky situations but Dalton was involved with the police and they took adequate precautions. Marla was a bit on the nosy side as frequently happens with amateur detectives but she was enough of a part of the legitimate investigation that it worked. It was obvious that Cohen had researched the area as the setting really rang true. This really felt like it was taking place in Arizona mining country and I especially enjoyed Marla and Dalton's trip to The Poison Pen Bookstore.
I would have liked more time spent in the ghost town but that's just because I'm fascinated with the whole concept. This is on the cozier side of the cozy genre so if you're not a big cozy fan this may not be for you. However, if you enjoy a good mystery in an interesting setting this is definitely worth reading.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would. I'm looking forward to seeing how Marla and Dalton work when they're at home.
Would I Recommend this Book?: If you like cozy mysteries and/or enjoy a Western setting this is a fun read.