Tuesday, January 1, 2013
MURDER AT THE JUMPOFF by Jenny Bennett
UT professor Donald MacIntyre is reported missing when he doesn't return home from an off-trail hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ranger Hector Jones puts together a search-and-rescue team and finds MacIntyre's body at the bottom of the Jumpoff, a cliff known to off-trail hikers. Since MacIntyre was an experienced, well-respected off-trail hiker and the nature of his injuries indicate foul play, Sevier County Sheriff's Detective Sally Connolly begins an investigation aided by Hector. They learn MacIntyre told his wife he thought he was being followed but the one person who had conflict with MacIntyre has an alibi for the date of his death. They focus on MacIntyre's wife, who was in the process of divorcing MacIntyre and is suspected of illegal activities, but she has no motive. Interviews with MacIntyre's friends begin to point to a murderer whose motive is senseless and deranged. Jenny Bennett brings her expertise as an off-trail hiker to Murder at the Jumpoff, weaving a galvanizing mystery into an environment that is tough and dangerous. Hikers will enjoy reading her vivid descriptions of different trails and locales within the Great Smoky Mountains and mystery readers will certainly enjoy a challenging and suspenseful plot. Sally Connolly is the ultimate investigator, tough, down-to-earth and likeable. Bennett skillfully introduces characters whose live intersect, at times superficially, yet eventually are revealed to be linked to the murder by one person.