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Reviewed by Stephanie Dagg for Readers' Favorite
"Willowtree" by Mike Bove is a mystery set in a small town in Arizona. I hesitate to add ‘cozy’ to that description because that term conjures up garrulous, bumbling amateurs enthusiastically poking around in affairs that don’t concern them. This isn’t the case here as Bruce DelReno finds himself dragged into affairs very reluctantly after stumbling across some bones during a golfing session. Bruce has recently retired as a mailman and is filling a lot of his new free time with golf. And whilst it is true that there isn’t any full frontal violence or gore in the story, a requirement of ‘cozy’, it has at its heart a person’s death which is inescapably a brutal act. Bruce uses his local knowledge and tenacity to solve the case.
"Willowtree" is not just about a murder. There is an interesting look at life after retirement. Bruce is coping well mainly through his keen interest in golf but his wife Ginny feels she is not ready to completely stop contributing her skills. Bruce’s interest in golf provides an extra layer to the story. You don’t need to be a golfer to appreciate it and it is quite handy to pick up a few pointers as to what it is all about the next time you see it on TV. Bruce is a very real person. He is grumpy, witty, and caring and he can be annoying. He is a flawed and unlikely hero. But he is determined and curious and he sees this mystery through to the end. He is also a loyal friend and there is a great sense of trust and comradeship between him and the companions who he ropes in to help in his investigations.