Thursday, June 16, 2016

Vacations Can Be Murder - Review

Vacations Can Be Murder (Diega DelValle #3) by Jane DiLucchio

Rating:  Good
Source: Author
Description:  When Diega DelValle and three of her friends go on an impromptu vacation in Talkeetna, Alaska, Diega envisions an enjoyable summer break from teaching along with time to heal from a break up.  However, even before the friends arrive, this small town on the edge of Denali National Park becomes a less than idyllic vacation spot.  Gail, a Talkeetna native, dies on the mountain.  Melissa, Gail's cousin and a former student of Diega's, arrives in Talkeetna and raises doubts about the death being accidental.  Due to Melissa's pleas for help, Diega and her friends are thrust into an investigation of a small town and its inhabitants - an unsavory pastime that turns deadly (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb caught my attention and I haven't vicariously visited Alaska in awhile.

My Impression:  
What I Loved:
The setting - DiLucchio really uses the setting to full advantage.  The wilds of Alaska aren't merely window dressing for a mystery that takes place inside.  Denali is constantly lurking overhead as shrouded in clouds as it is in mysteries.  There are discussions on gardens and the advantages of both the soil and the long days.  Diega and her friends spend quite a lot of time in the small town dealing with both the disadvantages and advantages of being in a small isolated town.

The mystery itself - I really had no idea how this was all going to work out.  Even when I had an idea of the who I was still missing lots of details and definitely wanted to get everything all figured out.  I definitely enjoyed seeing how all those details wrapped up

The balance - With such a fascinating setting it would be really easy to get wrapped up in the details of living in Talkeetna, Alaska but while I was really able to visualize what it was like I never felt like the mystery ever got lost.  I also really liked how balanced Di Lucchio was in what could easily have been hot button issues.  While there are several mentions of Diega's social activism but I never felt like she was lecturing me which I really appreciated.

The characters - I loved Diega and Tully and Kate especially but the book had a whole cast of quirky characters.  There's a grumpy mountain man,  a sketchy bush pilot, and a photographer who seems to have more than his share of secrets, just to name a few.

What I Didn't Love:
A few too many characters - While I did really enjoy getting to know all the people in Talkeetna as well as Diega and Tully I had a hard time keeping track of the rest of Diega's friend group.  Part of this may have been because this is book 3 and if I had read the first 2 I would have known them all a little better.  There were a few times where I had to remind myself of who Felicia or Jenny was.  But really this is a very minor complaint.

This was a solid mystery with interesting characters in an amazing setting.  It wasn't a pull you in and  all of a sudden it's 3AM kind of mystery but it was thoroughly enjoyable and sometimes it's nice not to have to double check the locks!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I liked getting to know Diega and reading a book set in Alaska made the high temperatures and even higher humidity (okay probably not higher but it feels like it!) not seem so bad.

Would I Recommend this Book?:   Yes, I think most mystery readers would enjoy this.


  1. This sounds like a good one. I like stories where people go on vacation and are suddenly in the middle of a mystery.

  2. Sounds interesting. I love books set in Alaska, and when there's a mystery thrown in it's even better. I've never read anything by this author, so I'll be checking her out.

  3. This one is new to me, but I like the sound of the setting, the characters, and how the writer brought it all out. Thanks for sharing.

  4. That Alaskan Setting is impossible to resist, isn't? I don't like when there are too many characters. It's so hard to keep track of them all.

  5. I love to read stories set in Alaska, Montana, or other wide-open areas where there is the ability to use the landscape as a "character" in the story.

    I would make one point: If you hadn't discussed this book I would never have even stopped to read the blurb for it, because I don't feel the cover speaks to me. Unfortunately, covers do speak to me and may make me pass them by on Amazon or in the library.

  6. Sounds nice! A balance between the setting and the mystery is always good- that one doesn't overbalance the other. I haven't read many stories set in Alaska i don't think, and I like the imagery of the mountain kinda looming over all. Nice too that the social activism stuff wasn't preachy, that can sometimes be a fine line. Looks like a solid read!

  7. I love books set in Alaska but haven't read one for a long while! Most likely reading the earlier books would have helped keeping track of all the characters, but still, on the whole it has worked for you so well done!

  8. One of my sisters lives in Alaska. I'll mention this title to her!

  9. Sounds like a good series, not read any from this author.

  10. This is a new-to-me series. Thanks for sharing it.

  11. I am all about a book set in Alaska!! Sorry there were a bit too many characters though. Great review!!

  12. I love a strong setting. And Alaska seems like such a beautiful place. Someday I would like to visit there. :-) Hopefully with this one it's more a case of starting at the beginning that would make this one better. Although it sounds like it has a lot going for it. I'm glad you liked it, Katherine.

  13. I would grab this just for the setting. I have a thing for Alaska and hope to visit one day :)