Open for Murder and Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela #bookreviews #mystery

Title: Open for Murder

Author: Mary Angela

Publisher:  Lyrical Press

Publication Date: November 24, 2020

Page Count:  209

My rating: 3 stars

About the book:

Deep in the heart of touristy small-town Spirit Canyon, South Dakota, former journalist Zo Jones runs the Happy Camper gift shop, where she sells everything from locally made souvenirs to memorabilia. She even rents out mountain bikes, and dabbles in the adventure industry—and sleuthing . . .

It’s Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon, and for Zo that means the return of summer shoppers. It also means the return of her good friend Beth, who’s moved back to the area to reopen her family’s premier hotel, Spirit Canyon Lodge. Beth and Zo spent many childhood summers there and Zo can’t wait to reconnect and celebrate the Grand Opening. But the festivities go from bad to worse when a power outage knocks out the lights—and morning reveals a competitor’s dead body found on the premises . . .

Soon enough, Beth is the prime suspect in the suspicious death. Fortunately, Zo isn’t afraid to put her investigative skills to work and prove her friend’s innocence. To start digging for information, she appeals to Max Harrington, a local Forest Ranger and unlikely ally. Though they’ve argued about Happy Camper’s tours, in this case they agree on one thing: Beth isn’t a murderer. Stranger things have happened than their collaboration. After all, this is Spirit Canyon. But as the list of suspects grows, Zo will have to keep her guard up if she doesn’t want to be the next lodge guest to check out .

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Find this book online: 

Goodreads  /   Amazon **

Title: Midnight Spells Murder

Author: Mary Angela

Publisher:  Lyrical Press

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Page Count:  271

My rating: 3 1/2 stars

About the book:

Spirit Canyon’s annual Spirit Spooktacular weekend is on, and for local amateur sleuth Zo Jones, it’s boomtime for business at her Happy Camper gift shop . . . until a murderer drops in for a browse.
 
To celebrate Halloween at the Happy Camper, Zo schedules a talk by successful author and self-proclaimed witch Marianne Morgan. Although Marianne’s benign brand of witchcraft is more about feminine empowerment than black magic, her presence is still not welcomed by everyone. Then on a midnight stroll home, Zo spots what seems to be a new Halloween decoration propped up outside the Happy Camper. What she finds is not a mannequin but a dead Marianne, her lifeless body dressed in traditional witch’s garb. But why would someone send this good witch back to the spirit world permanently?
 
Soon Zo realizes that plenty of folks have motives for murdering Marianne. What’s worse, nosy TV newsman Justin Castle plans to broadcast a report associating Marianne’s murder with the Happy Camper. Zo calls on her partner in sleuthing, local forest ranger Max Harrington, to help her find the culprit before Justin’s report airs. Otherwise Zo’s business just might go bust. But to catch this killer, Zo will have to risk much more than just her reputation . . .

Find this book online: 

Goodreads  /   Amazon **

Open for Murder by Mary Angela is the first book in the new cozy A Happy Camper Mystery series while Midnight Spells Murder is the second. Each of these books in the series could be read as a standalone as they each contain their own mystery that was fully solved inside. There is however character development that is and will carry over from book to book of the series for those that follow from the beginning.

The A Happy Camper Mystery series  introduced readers to Zo Jones who had studied to be a journalist but decided that wasn’t where she wanted to go with her life. Zo chose to return to Spirit Canyon, South Dakota where she opened up her shop, Happy Camper. The Happy Camper is a gift shop where Zo sells a little bit of everything and even rents out bikes to the tourists.

Open for Murder takes place over Memorial Day weekend in Spirit Canyon and it’s busy season for Zo in her shop. Zo’s best friend, Beth, has returned to the tiny town to reopen her family’s hotel, Spirit Canyon Lodge. Unfortunately for Zo and Beth the festivities of the opening don’t go as planned when a dead body is found and Beth is a suspect in the murder.

Midnight Spells Murder brings Halloween to Spirit Canyon and Zo is excited to host an author in her gift shop, the Happy Camper, who claims to be a witch. Marianne Morgan isn’t about spooky spells but more female empowerment and Zo is excited to have her. However, after Marianne gives her talk Zo stumbles upon her body outside of her shop obviously murdered and posed in a witch hat so Zo vows to find the killer before she becomes suspect number one.

Being someone that is always drawn into many different cozy series by their cute covers I found myself immediately attracted to the A Happy Camper Mystery series. When reading this series though I found it hard to find anything that I really connected to that would make it stand out from the many that I read. Zo was an alright character and those that surrounded her were too but I’m always looking for that spark that makes me fall in love with the characters and setting, usually something quirky and fun and this one didn’t have that wow factor to me. The second book did pick up a slight bit to three and a half stars with getting to know the characters a bit better but I still wasn’t finding anything unique that I loved. There were still solid mysteries involved in both however with so many out there to read I’m unsure I’ll continue on with the series.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

About the author:

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series, the Farm to Fork series, and the Kitchen Witch series. Small town setting, big time fun with a bit of murder to keep it interesting. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small river town like Mark Twain with her husband and three fur kids.

**This is an Amazon affiliate link which will allow me as an associate to earn a small commision on any purchase made through the link of the products I share and that commission in no way changes the pricing of any items for the buyer.

6 Comments on “Open for Murder and Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela #bookreviews #mystery

    • Thanks Kim! So true, I just keep picking up more and more and there’s bound to be some that just don’t gel as with every genre.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So sorry this series is a bit of a miss for you. I was intrigued as it takes place in South Dakota, and I lived there for 10 years. And I camped there a lot too. Oh well, I might give it a try anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

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