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by Nancy G. West
Henery Press, January 2017
224 pages
ISBN: 1635111366

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I approached the reading of RIVER CITY DEAD with some trepidation. It is the fourth book in Nancy West's Aggie Mundeen Mystery Series, and I have not yet read the first three. I needn't have worried though; the novel stands firmly on its own, providing enough character background to satisfy new readers while containing enough wit, character interaction and plot to fully satisfy ongoing fans of the series.

The book is told from two points of view. The main point of view is Aggie's, and we see the story as it unfolds through her eyes. The second point of view is that of Aggie's new boyfriend, told in third person. West uses Sam's POV to fill in whatever gaps in the story that Aggie is not present for.

In the book, Aggie and Sam Vanderhoven have planned their first romantic rendezvous to take place in a luxury suite at the Casa Prima Hotel on the San Antonio Riverwalk during Fiesta Week. They are forced to put their plans on hold when a young woman is found murdered in the suite they were going to occupy. Sam Vanderhoven is a San Antonio Police Detective and is quickly drawn into the investigation. Aggie, too, finds herself compelled to solve the mystery of the young woman's death, especially when she realizes that the dead woman is the ex-daughter-in-law of her best friend, Grace. While investigating the murder, Aggie meets and befriends members of the Fabulous Femmes, a group of women who have joined together to do philanthropic projects, have fun and travel. The Fabulous Femmes are annual attendees at Fiesta Week on the Riverwalk, and are going to perform a dance routine at the Arneson Theater on the river as part of the festivities. As she and Sam investigate, Aggie realizes that some of the Femmes are either involved in the murders, or in danger themselves. Can the couple solve the murder without wrecking their future together?

Fair warning: this book will be bad for your budget. Nancy West's descriptions of San Antonio, the Riverwalk and Fiesta Week will compel you to add them to your bucket list. I did find that it took me about one chapter longer than it usually does for the mystery to grab hold of me and propel me towards the end, although that may be solely due to my concerns with starting a series in the middle rather than the beginning. I'm glad I chose to move forward that extra chapter; RIVER CITY DEAD is a fun read with interesting characters in a vivid setting and a satisfying solution to the mystery.

Nancy Eady is a writer, blogger and lawyer in central Alabama. She has read mysteries since elementary school, and is currently working on a mystery novel of her own. Her blog is located at www.workingmomadventures.com.

Reviewed by Nancy Eady, February 2017

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