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Alicia (Ali to her friends) is a newlywed settling down at her horse farm in rural Ontario, CA when a proposal is submitted to build a new golf course and resort that includes the destruction of an existing marsh. After a protest group demands an ecological study, the fate of the marsh rests with a noted ecologist, who announces she did not find any endangered species and the project could proceed. The head of the conservation group, Ali's old friend Ted, believes he has found something that reverses Rowena's findings, but he is murdered before he can share what he has found. Ali and Chris set out to investigate, navigating small town politics to uncover the truth.
I really enjoyed this. I've not read any of the previous books in this series, so I can safely say this can be read as a standalone, or as an entry into the series. Set in a small town in Ontario, Canada, Dunbarton is a idyllic location and gave the book a strong sense of place. The writing is engaging, you can't help but like Ali and her husband Chris, who managed not to let the marsh issue come between them, despite working on opposing sides. And what a great plot! I wavered between which suspect was the killer over and over and in the end I was kinda right but mostly wrong and very satisfied.
I enjoyed the ecological aspect of the story, that marshes are increasingly under threat from development, and the importance of preserving them. I could also see the viewpoint of the townspeople who were in favor of the golf course. In a small town, there are so few places of income and revenue that a big development can be a huge boon for a town. It also highlighted how easy it is to let greed compromise good judgement.
Overall, a very enjoyable book, and I'll be sure to check out the other books in the series. I definitely recommend this to cozy mystery fans as a quick, light read.
Thank you to the author, Valerie Tate, for providing a free copy of the book in return for my honest review.