Hardy Durkin heads to the pristine Engadine Valley in Switzerland with the Ski marathon in mind, but is detoured by a body in the snow and an exotic beauty. While assisting TIGRIS in the hunt for a terrorist arms buyer he narrowly escapes two attempts on his life and meets a new and very deadly nemesis in Engadine Aerie.
It seems trouble follows Hardy Durkin, or rather, he knows how to find it even when it's hiding in plain sight. In this installment of the travel mystery series, Hardy is helping a friend, Abby, on her first trip as a ski group leader. As Hardy has led many hiking treks around the world, Abby trusts Hardy to offer support while participating on the slopes. Though, there's quite a few members of the group using the trip as a means to their own ends. This is unbeknownst to Abby, but Hardy picks up on it pretty fast, considering he uncovers a dead body on their first outing.
Hardy is a persistent, curious, and cautious man who has dealt with uncovering crime in the past. Having read one of the previous installments of this series, I kind of knew what to expect from this book. Beautiful descriptions, well-rounded explanations and information, and of course, surprises around every corner. Even though the history gets a little dense, Bluette Matthey gives readers everything they need to know it order to understand the story line and enjoy the adventure. As Hardy seems to be a natural born leader, readers will follow his line of thinking and understand his motivations. Though Hardy's character really does seem to always find himself in heaps of trouble, it gives the book a fun though serious aura. Even though it seems unlikely that a trek leader would find himself in the middle of an arms deal, murder plot, and terrorist attack in the same vacation... I guess crazier things have happened.
Overall, Hardy is a likeable character. He's friendly, supportive, and intrigued by anything mysterious, which keeps the book a little bit spicy. There were a couple of disturbing parts of the book including the twins who take their relationship to an illegal level as well as the brother-sister villains who pretend to be each other. Even with these uncomfortable caveats, I did enjoy reading the book. I think I would have liked it more had the plot felt more connected. I could see the web that Matthey was creating and it works but something felt disjointed, perhaps even forced. I think there were too many factors and too many moving pieces to believe that Hardy could just stumble into the plot and figure it all out as easily as he did. Not that it's completely over, and not that I wouldn't read the next installment. The intrigue and adventure is there to pull the reader in, even when the lack of connection is causing issues. My favorite part about the book is the fact that Matthey actually visits all of these places in order to write more honestly about the location. I think that really shines through in this novel. The descriptions are very enjoyable and that helps build the setting that houses so much chaos around this ski trip.
Rating: 2.5/5 Cups
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.