Scene of the Climb is the first book in Kate Dyer-Seeley's cozy mystery series that is set in Portland, Oregon - one of my favorite places! I was so glad to get to discover Kate and her series when she was on a panel at Left Coast Crime. The panel was Murder in the Great Outdoors and this series definitely includes a murder and the great Oregon outdoors.
So what's Scene of the Climb about - well, let me tell you. Meg Reed has grown up in the Portland area, the daughter of an investigative reporter for the local 'big' newspaper. Her father was well known in those circles, but he was killed in a tragic accident. Meg got her degree in journalism just in time for the 'big' paper to begin laying off reporters. She needs a job badly and so through a set of quirky circumstances involving a pink umbrella, she's offered a chance to work for Greg Dixon, editor of Northwest Extreme magazine. Portland is filled with interesting people - some are definite outdoor enthusiasts and some are more into the brewpubs, great food, and hipster fashions. Guess which type Meg is - hint: she wears lots of pink and has a fear of heights - oh, and she loves beer.
Regardless, Meg is resolved to do a good job for the magazine and she's pretty sure she can bluff her way through any 'extreme' stories that she's assigned. She really didn't count on having to write about a new reality TV show that's all about adventure. She also didn't count on having to follow the TV crew and contestants through the Columbia Gorge, climbing slippery trails, trying not to look over the ledges at the beautiful vistas. Meg is struggling to catch up with everyone when she witnesses a man plummeting over a cliff. What has happened? Is he dead? Was he pushed? After speaking with the sheriff and telling all she knows, Meg finds herself wondering how this 'accident' occurred and whether the feeling she has that someone is following her is real. Did she catch something in the photos that she snapped? What about the slight glimpse of someone off the trail? As Meg begins to channel some of her father's investigative talents, she's about to find out that murder is another kind of 'extreme sport'.
It's been quite a while since I read a cozy mystery and this was a good place to begin again. I loved the Oregon descriptions that Kate Dyer-Seeley included in this book. She took us through the city of Portland and then up and down the Columbia Gorge, making me remember and see that gorgeous area throughout the book. Once upon a time, we lived in Portland for about 3 years. We traveled all over that area, across to Washington and north to Seattle, from the Pacific and wonderful Oregon Coast to the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains and the dry places located in that part of the state. The Columbia Gorge is really beautiful at all times of the year. I have pictures of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helen's, and Multnomah Falls all over my office/library here at home. As I was reading about them, I was glancing up over and over to smile and think how much I enjoyed living in the Pacific Northwest for that short period of time. So, I can give a big thumbs up to this author's Oregon setting.
I liked Meg and thought she was quite funny. She misses her father, doesn't get along very well with her mother, and then there's her Gam (her grandmother). Gam too fits right in to certain aspects of this area. She's a 'new ager', a shaman, a Reiki healer, and all about crystals and zapping you with special energy. Meg is a newbie to the extreme sports world, but she is a good reporter. She asks the right questions, but probably puts herself in harm's way too often. She'll learn. I had the solution figured out fairly early on, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the setting and getting to know Meg, her friends, and her world.
I look forward to the next book in the series, Slayed On The Slopes. It takes place on Mt. Hood and involves an elite rescue squad and winter weather. And the 3rd book will be published next week. It's entitled Silenced in the Surf. Picture windsurfing in Hood River. I am not an extreme sports participant myself, but I'll sure have a good time reading about those who are - plus a little crime and murder.