Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage





Stranded by Lorena McCourtney

Reviewed by Heather R. Hunt

"McCourtney's likeable and distinctive cast of characters bring added depth and emotion to what is a heavily plot-driven genre."

Little Old Lady (LOL) Ivy Malone is back in her fourth adventure, this time Stranded in a tiny Colorado town named Hello. And poor ol’ Ivy is still attracting dead bodies quicker than Jessica Fletcher.

She's barely in town long enough to discover that her motor home’s engine is shot before her “mutant curiosity gene” is roused by talk of the recently murdered town benefactor, Hiram McCleod. Right on cue, the prime suspect walks in the room---and promptly invites Ivy to stay in her murdered uncle’s rickety old house until the motor home can be fixed. That sounds just great to Ivy Malone. And in the hands of author Lorena McCourtney, it’s even better for readers.

Still on board for the action is young Abilene Tyler, who Ivy picked up during her last escapade somewhere in Oklahoma. And Ivy’s old friends Magnolia and Mac make timely appearances, too. It’s like old motor home week in Hello when everyone converges in town in time for the annual 1920s Old West Revue.

But it’s not all fun and games and cozy reunions. There’s still that niggling unsolved murder and a half dozen likely suspects. Since Ivy takes an instant liking to Hiram’s niece, Kelli Kiefer, she refuses to believe the town’s assumptions of Kelli's guilt. But neither is she willing to rule anybody out. She must be professional about this. Even though she's not a professional. But she does have a way of ferreting out criminals in spite of her LOL invisibility---or is it precisely because people ignore little old ladies that she's able to find out things big men in uniform can't?

In any case, Ivy's on the trail and as she gets closer to the truth, the killer wants her stopped. Enough to kill again whether through arson or falls into elevator shafts. This all sounds rather breathless and dangerous, and the writing can certainly be taut and page-turning at times. But spending time on the road with Ivy Malone is like spending time in Cabot Cove with Jessica Fletcher. McCourtney creates a safe haven within the danger by crafting a balanced mix of precarious scenarios in which readers cannot possibly see how Ivy will escape with ingenious last-minute heroics - often by Ivy herself - that always get her through in one piece. Not without some damage to both dignity and person. But always in one piece.

Along the way, McCourtney's likeable and distinctive cast of characters bring added depth and emotion to what is a heavily plot-driven genre. There's even a hint of romance for ol' Ivy. So if you love a good mystery that'll keep you guessing until the end while spending time with people you care about, pick up the latest Ivy Malone Mystery. I guarantee you won't mind getting Stranded.

Heather R. HuntHeather R. Hunt is a business editor in Connecticut. For fun she reads, writes, cheers on the Red Sox, and enjoys tennis and cycling. She also co-leads a local tea party and enjoys holding government officials and media outlets accountable. Check out her blogs, The View from Stonewater and Connecticut for Sarah Palin.