Vacations Can Be Murder (Diega DelValle #3) by Jane DiLucchio
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)
Why I Picked This Book: The blurb caught my attention and I haven't vicariously visited Alaska in awhile.
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.