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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
Murder at the Blue Ox Inn by Jesse L. Isfet sees Jason and Whitney horrified when their manager, Meredith, books two ideologically opposed groups into the conference facilities. Kathy Dunlap and Horatio Jones represent a group of timber industry tycoons, while Esther Winter, Frank Olive, and Carl Dunlap attend Professor Baptiste’s environmental class at Emerald State College. The environmentalists predictably launch disruptive demonstrations. Then Kathy is found murdered, and Mike is called in to help. Could the culprit be Paul, a former logger and a current hotel handyman? Might Carl Dunlap’s anger at the loss of his trust fund turn deadly? Is there any truth to assistant Lydia’s claim that Professor Baptiste condones violence?
Murder at the Blue Ox Inn by Jesse L. Isfet is a ‘who-dun-it’ that also provides a fascinating juxtaposition of different points of view regarding the lumber industry. I really liked the way Mike the ranger and Paul the former logger both enjoyed hiking in the woods. One was employed to protect the region while the other derived a livelihood from harvesting, yet both felt a personal connection and knew all the secret trails. The murder mystery was effectively woven through the narrative and cleverly took advantage of every character’s self-interest to create motive and suspicion. The threat of larger-scale violence created suspense, while the lack of visible evidence made me fear the plot would not be uncovered in time. I shivered with horror to think what might have happened, and what very nearly did happen. Murder at the Blue Ox Inn by Jesse L. Isfet is an intelligent murder mystery that also left me thinking about the environment and the most sustainable way to manage it.