Audiobook review: Deserts, Driving, & Derelicts
Author: Tonya Kappes
Narrator: Johanna Parker
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series #2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Tantor Audio
Deserts, Driving, & Derelicts opens a few months following Mae’s arrival in Normal, with the Happy Trails Campground up and running and already making a positive impact on the local economy. Her success story catches the eye of a National Parks magazine, which leads to her story being spread across the country. This in turn brings around her foster, Bobby Ray, whom Mae hasn’t seen since she left Kentucky all those years ago. And when a local is found murdered, with Bobby Ray a potential suspect, Mae must use her detective skills to help her old friend.
Deserts, Driving, & Derelicts is a solid sophomore entry to the Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery series. I enjoy seeing how Mae has settled into her place in Normal, making friends and helping those she can. Mae’s change from Manhattan socialite to beloved citizen of Normal gives the story heart and keeps the mystery grounded. She’s a good person, and while she’ll make mistakes, she’s doing a good thing. There is also a bit of a romance – or possibly a love triangle (please NO) – brewing, which gives me something more to follow.
The mystery of who killed a local dog nanny spreads out in a few directions, putting Mae through some twists and turns. I like how local police officer Hank (one of her potential love interests) sees value in Mae, rather than just blowing off her theories. The mystery unfolds and progresses, leaving me guessing as to the identity of the culprit and their motive. While the mystery isn’t overly complex, it is interesting and well-developed. And as Mae follows the threads, she (and we) learn more about the residents of Normal.
My only complaint is that sometimes the timeline is not well planned. For example, Mae and Dottie plan a huge summer party at the trailer park, with a band and everything. This would be an all-day event for most people; however, as the timeline unfolds, we discover that they both have book club and Mae a potential date. Not only did the day seem to contain too many events, but the timing for the characters attending the events just doesn’t add up.
Narration: I’m really coming to appreciate and enjoy Ms. Parker’s southern drawl and how it adds ambiance to a story. The series is shared from Mae’s first person narrative, and Ms. Parker’s voice fits Mae’s personality: friendly, courageous, and determined. Overall, Ms. Parker fits the southern, small-town feel and pacing of the narrative. Each character has a slightly different voice fitting his/her age and gender, with her male and older women characters having deeper voices.
In the end, I enjoyed Deserts, Driving, & Derelicts and look forward to seeing what befalls Mae West and the residents of Normal in the next title.
Review copy provided by Tantor Audio
About the Book:
Welcome to Normal, Kentucky where nothin’ is normal!
Mae West is just getting settled into the RV lifestyle as owner of the local camp ground in Normal, Kentucky. The Happy Trails Camp Ground, located in the Daniel Boone National Park, has started to bring in tourists for the late summer vacationing family that love to hike, swim, fish, and enjoy the outdoor life.
The Laundry Club ladies are still holding court ( better known as gossip sessions) in the local laundry mat. They’re spinning more tales than the washing machine spin cycle after there’s a string of burglaries happening in their small, southern town.
Suddenly everyone in Normal is on alert after one of their own is found dead. Even though Mae West tries her best to stay out of it, she can’t. After all, it’s not good for business when a murderer is on the loose. Plus, Betts Hager, one of the Laundry Club ladies and Mae’s good friend, is the number one suspect and now it’s personal to Mae.
Mae has grown to love her RV community and now that she’s found a place to belong, she’s not going to let anyone ruin it, throwing her deep into using her amateur sleuthing skills to bring the real killer to justice.