Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Murder Off the Beaten Path

Murder Off the Beaten Path (Search and Rescue Mystery - Book 2) by M.L. Rowland

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425263673
ISBN-13: 978-0425263679

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

M.L. Rowland on the WEB: website, blogfacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Search and Rescue Mystery

1. Zero-Degree Murder
2. Murder Off the Beaten Path

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from, Murder Off the Beaten Path, courtesy of the author's website.


As a member of a mountain search and rescue team, Gracie Kinkaid routinely volunteers to put her life on the line. But it’s at her new day job at a residential camp in the mountains of southern California where she finds her life is really in danger… 

As a volunteer for Timber Creek Search and Rescue, Gracie responds to a call out for a car that’s gone over the side of a treacherous mountain road. The crash, which Gracie quickly suspects is no accident, proves to be one in an escalating and deadly series of events that lead her right back to Camp Ponderosa, a church-owned camp where she works as Program Director. As Gracie probes more deeply into the dark secrets at the camp, she unearths a hidden world of illegal activities, including murder…and finds herself going head-to-head with desperate perpetrators who will do anything to silence her forever.


Murder Off the Beaten Path is M.L. Rowland's second book in her Search and Rescue mystery series. Rowland has a great eye for detail. Her descriptions of the scenery, the search and rescue missions and daily life at Camp Ponderosa were spot on and very detail oriented. Readers who are looking for a little adventure in their cozies with appreciate Rowland's vast experience with SAR and her way of writing a good whodunit. A great second book in the series!

What I liked:

In M.L. Rowland's first book in the Search and Rescue mystery series, Zero-Degree Murder, I questioned whether or not the book truly fit into the parameters of the cozy sub-genre. It leaned quite heavily toward being a thriller, but in Murder Off the Beaten Path, Rowland has settled into a more common cozy pattern. The balance between adventure and amateur sleuthing is much better in this one, but it still gives the reader a good dose of heart pumping action. 

Rowland's experience as a form mountain search and rescue operative is essential to giving this series it's authenticity. It is obvious that this author knows exactly what's she's talking about when it comes to this subject. It gives her main character Gracie Kincaid a lot of credibility and makes the story so much more believable. The powers that be often tell new writers to write about what they know. Rowland has certainly taken that to heart and provided readers with a very well written portrayal of what a woman faces working in the search and rescue arena. 

Gracie impressed me in this book. In the first book she was a bit more complacent. She didn't quite have the confidence I thought she needed in the beginning of that book, but throughout the course of the read she earned that confidence and became a much better heroine. In Murder Off the Beaten Path, Gracie already has a handle on who she is and where she fits. I liked her spunk and her zest for life. I appreciated her need to be of service and help people not only in her search and rescue efforts but also in her work at Camp Ponderosa. She is coming into her own as a heroine and Rowland continues to develop her character until the final page of the book. 

The search and rescue missions are important in the book but Gracie's search for answers is central to the theme of this one. When her friend is killed in an accident under suspicious circumstances, Gracie begins to question her work with Camp Ponderosa a church supported camp in the area. As things start to come together in her amateur search for clues, Gracie becomes more determined than ever to find out what is going on behind the scenes at the Camp. It was a very well written mystery that kept me guessing all the way through. It was a true cozy mystery and Rowland excelled at bringing it all together. 

Bottom Line:

I liked this one even better than the first book in the series. Gracie is becoming just as much a sleuth as she is a search and rescue worker. Rowland's balance between adventure and sleuthing was much better in this one and readers will appreciate her attention to detail in every aspect of the book. This book really rings true and feels real and believable. A great second book in the series!

Murder Off the Beaten Path is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

M.L. Rowland is the author of Zero-Degree Murder: A Search and Rescue Mystery.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Murder Off the Beaten Path by M.L. Rowland.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 13th.

1. Please leave a comment. Have you had any experiences with search and rescue?

2. Please fill out the FORM.


Unknown said...

no experiences with search and rescue

Karen B said...

No - unless you can count hide-and-seek where someone got stuck in a cabinet and had to be rescued!

Charlotte said...

No I have not.

traveler said...

No experience with search and rescue. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

Luckily, I haven't had any personal experience with search and rescue. Thanks.

Angela - Bookaunt said...

I have not had any experiences with search and rescue

Anonymous said...

Luckily I have never had to be in a search and rescue.

lag123 said...

I don't have any experiences.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Sue Farrell said...

No experience with search and rescue for me.

Anonymous said...

No Debbie, I've not had any experience in search and rescue. That is unless you want to count my little 3 year old daughter running away out of our yard. I was 19 and panicked, but started down the street. Finally seen her way down the street after she had turned a corner. Didn't know she could go fast in such a short time. But, was so glad she was ok. I would love to win this book. Sounds like would be one I would like. Thanks for a chance.
Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

bn100 said...

No, I haven't

Texas Book Lover said...

Luckily I have not in real life...only through books!

Anita Yancey said...

No, I have not had any experience with search and rescue. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Carol N Wong said...

A long time ago in the 1950s, my brother who is severaly autistic disappeared. We looked all over the house over and over again, then we got the neighbors hunting. My mother sent me down the street and across the bridge to see if my brother had wondered off to the Fall Creek Park.

Back then, I had never heard of gangs but had a taste of a 1950's type one. I was so naive! I saw a group of teenage boys (I was about seven at the time) if they had seen my brother, I described himt to them. They laughed and one of them gave me a big punch in the stomach, knocking the air out of me. Boy, I got scared fast. They seemed amused and were getting ready for some more punches. I took off like I was on fire and finally got home. By the time that I got there, they had already found my mother huddled under his bed!


Unknown said...

not a search and rescue, but i have been in a couple of Amber Alerts and we had to search our building for missing children