(Reviewed by Ann Wilkes MAR 25, 2009)
Owen McKenna, a former police officer-turned private investigator, is approached by the uncle of an avalanche victim to investigate his nephew's death. Why? What's there to investigate? Who ever heard of suicide or murder by avalanche?
The uncle insists and has the money and the anguish to convince McKenna to take the case. Before long, avalanches in the region have become epidemic and the bodies start piling up. At first the "leads" lead nowhere.
As McKenna asks questions and pokes into the lives of the nephew's friends, more layers of mystery emerge, but still no connection between them. McKenna's nagging question remains: Why use an avalanche to kill people? He learns the modus operandi, with the help of expert friends, but the who and why remain unknown until the end.
In Avalanche, the sixth book in Borg's Tahoe series, we have a dysfunctional family, eccentric characters, rescue dogs and seemingly man-made avalanches. Borg's clues are subtle and red herrings abound. He keeps the reader guessing right to the surprising denouement. The mystery is a given, but the requisite suspense to pronounce Avalanche a "thriller" was somewhat lacking. There were scenes in which his life was threatened, but the necessary tension was absent.
The characters are colorful with behaviors and circumstances that make them each a mystery in themselves. If you're a dog lover, you'll appreciate the antics and training of McKenna's Great Dane, Spot. Although I can't speak from the viewpoint of an avid mystery reader it seemed that the dialog was, at times, cheesy and overdone. I suspect that cheesy one-liners are a trademark of the genre, but it still may make you let out an occasional groan. But still, I liked the Lake Tahoe setting and the mystery. It kept me guessing.
- Amazon readers rating: from 4 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Tahoe Deathfall (August 2001)
- Tahoe Blowup (September 2001)
- Tahoe Ice Grave (August 2002)
- Tahoe Killshot (Augst 2004)
- Tahoe Silence (August 2007)
- Tahoe Avalanche (August 2008)
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- Official website for Todd Berg
- Publisher page on Todd Berg's books
- Mysterious Review on Tahoe Ice Grave
- Mystery Book review of Tahoe Silence
- Tahoe Silence wins Ben Franklin Award
- Tahoe Culture review of Tahoe Avalanche
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About the Author:
Todd Berg and his wife moved from Minnesota to Lake Tahoe in 1990. After his fourth Tahoe novel, he sold his business to write full time.
In addition to winning the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year, Todd Borg's Owen McKenna mysteries have been chosen for Top 5 Mystery lists by the prestigious Library Journal, and by Mystery News Reviewer G. Wedgwood. He's won Best Mystery and Best Thriller honors from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association and received Best New Fiction accolades from libraries. His novels have also received starred reviews and raves in major trade journals and newspapers across the country.
Todd Borg and his wife live on Lake Tahoe's South Shore.