Murder Off The Beaten Path is the second book in the A Search And Rescue Mystery series by M. L. Rowland. It is a well written well plotted mystery.
Gracie Kinkaid is a member of a search and rescue team. She is called out for a treacherous rescue of the driver of a car that that went over the side of a mountain. When she finally reaches the crash site, she realizes it is a recovery mission, not a rescue. And it is a recovery of someone she knows, which leaves her totally devastated. At least her job as Program Director at a church-owned camp will help her keep her mind of the death. But when things start to go downhill at the camp, Gracie realizes that the camp is not a squeaky clean as they may appear. Now she has two mysteries to solve, was the death of her friend really an accident and what is really happening at camp?
Gracie is tough-as-nails, as least on the outside. But deep down she has a soft spot and she worries about her friends and their safety. And when she rescues a four-legged friend and names her Minnie, her heart is lost to the dog. She is very confused in her love life and does not know what would be best for her. She does not want anyone to see her vulnerable side and will go to great extremes to keep that side hidden. Sometimes I think she made some stupid decisions that kept putting her in harms way. Every once in awhile I found myself think “what is wrong with you, don’t you know any better”. She frustrated me at times. But as a character in a book, Gracie is well rounded, well developed and three dimensional.
The mystery and suspense kept building from the beginning of the book to the very end. The plot is very well thought out and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. Although it is part of the Search And Rescue series, this book did not concentrate on that aspect as much as the first book, Zero-Degree Murder. I love reading Search And Rescue fiction and I thought book one was one of the best books I have read this year, even maybe ever. I am a little disappointed that book two did not have more of the Search And Rescue aspect. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book but just not as much as book one. That being said, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted mystery and I am very glad I read it. And I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Hopefully there is a book three.