Dyer-Seeley's website, http://www.katedyerseeley.com, describes her as a writer of "cozy mysteries." This book gives a prime example of why the label doesn't work well: True, there are few descriptions of gore, Meg's not mired in alcoholism or despair, and she's as clueless about the terrain of murder as she is about breaking in a pair of climbing boots before putting miles onto them in tender feet. But this is far from a tea-and-cats mystery; it's action and investigation and well-written dialogue. Of course, there has to be an explanation for each amateur sleuth's decision to leap past her or his normal sensible boundaries, and here is Meg's:
Matt maneuvered the truck in the direction of Angel's Rest. I filled him in on the events of last night.Meg's cute and smart, and flirtation definitely raises its head -- but that doesn't distract from the pace or Meg's independence and sharp learning curve. And that's another reason the label "cozy" doesn't quite match here -- this is not a mystery twining around a romance, but rather a plucky chase after clues, motives, and risk.
When I finished, he shifted around a corner and gave me a wary look. "Jesus, Megs, this is getting serious. But why go back? I don't get it."
"I want to see if there's anything on the trails. It's not raining. Maybe we can make our way to the deer trail? Maybe I can figure out what the missing photo is. Andrew had to have left a clue somewhere." ...
Matt said, shifting once again, slowing, "You're playing with fire here. I think it's time to call the sheriff."
"I did. I left him a message this morning. You don't understand." I hated the pleading tone in my voice. "I have to find real evidence. I know it's Andrew. I have to prove it."
One more reason I'm suggesting picking up this book now, while the series is new and people don't know about it too much (outside of Vancouver, Washington, where Kate Dyer-Seeley lives): Although the book isn't digging into life's deep issues as Louise Penny's very different (and also NOT cozy) series does, there's an aspect of Dyer-Seeley's plotting that pushes SCENE OF THE CLIMB toward what Penny does: Underneath the quick and well-paced action is a dark secret of Meg's past that's hinted at, but not actually confirmed until the finale of the book -- so it's clear the series has a double arc of plot that's going to take us to an even riskier, more wicked flow of events.
I can hardly wait!