What I’m Reading


The Alpine Winter by Mary Daheim

So obviously, it’s far from winter here in the United States.  But regardless of the inappropriate timing, I had to read The Alpine Winter, because it’s the latest (paperback) installment of one of my favorite mystery series (there is a more recent novel – The Alpine Xanadu, but given how fast we go through books in my household, it’s too expensive to invest in hardback copies!).

The Alpine series is probably one of the most realistic mystery series that I read.  There have even been times when I have scared myself, just by reading them alone at night.  For those of you looking for something a little different than the themed series I’ve often recommended, this one’s for you!

In order to create the setting for the series, author Mary Daheim actually breathed new life into the real life ghost town of Alpine, Washington.  Originally called Nippon, Alpine was a small logging town in the Cascade Mountains near Skykomish.  Once the woods had been logged to capacity, the entire town was burnt to the ground and abandoned. Daheim, who’s ancestors once lived there, re-imagined the town as it would be today, filling it with quirky small town characters and a brand new sense of livelihood.  One of these characters is Emma Lord, the town’s newspaper editor, who is joined by her intrepid team of reporters – including one Vida Runkel – in the often dangerous task of getting to the bottom of things.

In this latest publication we find our resourceful newspaper editor in a somewhat difficult position.  Not only is Emma struggling to keep her personal life just that – personal – in a small town full of prying eyes and wagging tongues, but she’s also a reporter short due to a nearby prison break scandal.  Just when it seems things can’t get any worse, two bodies are found in the nearby woods and it looks like whoever is responsible has Emma and Sheriff Milo Dodge marked as the next victims!

Like I said, this is one of my favorite realistic series – however, like I’ve also often said in previous reviews, this book wasn’t my favorite installment.  Daheim uses the alphabet process in naming her novels, which means that The Alpine Winter is the 23rd book in the series.  This also means that The Alpine Advocate, the first book, was published a good two decades ago.  In my personal experience, when a series goes on for such an extended time period and includes so many books, the quality of the writing tends to go down.  Although I still enjoy reading about the characters and discovering the answers to the mysteries, I also feel as though this book was significantly slower paced, and had less of a clear focus on the mystery itself, leading me to feel a bit scattered much of the time I was reading it.  Also, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on (so don’t judge the books based on this opinion), Emma Lord is not my favorite main character, and I found some of her motivations this time around downright irritating.

All in all, however, I still really enjoy The Alpine books, and I would definitely recommend them to those of you mystery fans out there who are looking for a new series to try!  Of course as usual I have to encourage you to start from the beginning!

Already familiar with the series?  – Get your copy of The Alpine Winter here: The Alpine Winter: An Emma Lord Mystery (Emma Lord Mysteries)

Or start from the beginning! – Get your copy of The Alpine Advocate here: Alpine Advocate (Emma Lord Mysteries)

Find out more about the real life town of Alpine, Washington:
Alpine, WA – PaineAirport.com
My Search for Alpine – Tim Raetzloff

Are you a fan of The Alpine mystery series?  Have you read The Alpine Winter?  What are your thoughts on the book/series?


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