Murder at the Blue Ox Inn

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
256 Pages
Reviewed on 11/07/2022
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    Book Review

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.

Pikasho Deka

Fans of whodunnit murder mysteries are in for a treat with Murder at the Blue Ox Inn by Jesse Isfet. Mike Stier's ranger duties at the Olympic National Park don't prevent him from taking hiking trips with his friend Paul Anderson. But when the new owners of the nearby Blue Ox Inn bring a New York paralegal as the chief coordinator, the entire area is filled with tourists of all kinds. While a group of environmentalists led by a disgruntled professor clash with the timber industry business owners from all over, the brutal killing of one businesswoman with an axe ensures chaos. Now, Mike, alongside Sheriff Gleason, must catch the culprit while preventing a potential bombing that could spell disaster for all.

Author Jesse Isfet keeps readers on their toes, pulling the rug from under their feet over and over again. Murder at the Blue Ox Inn follows a varied array of characters, each of whom has the agency and motive to commit murder on their way to accomplishing their goals. Apart from the unexpected twists and turns of the plot, what impressed me most was the distinct personality traits of the characters, which shine through as every single one of them receives a decent amount of page time and makes their presence felt. Mike is a laid-back person who wants nothing more than to return to his humdrum routine. But his ingenuity and perceptiveness make him thoroughly compelling to follow. Overall, a delightful cozy murder mystery to spend your evenings with.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Murder at the Blue Ox Inn by Jesse Isfet is an intriguing murder mystery set in the Blue Ox Inn in the Olympic National Park. The readers are introduced to the story’s diverse characters. Paul Anderson, an ex-lumberjack who is temporarily working as a waiter/handyman at the inn. Mike Stier is a park ranger living in a station nearby. There is also the owner of thousands of acres of Olympic Peninsula timberland and sawmills, Kathy Dunlap, with her secretary and apprentice Lydia Kerrigan, and Professor Baptiste, a teacher at Emerald State College who is a committed environmentalist. Things become volatile at the Blue Ox Inn when the scheduling of the timber and environmental conferences overlap, and the tension comes to a head when a dead body is found in the gazebo.

The premise of Jesse Isfet’s Murder at the Blue Ox Inn is highly relevant as deforestation continues to be a global issue affecting climate change today. The beginning focuses on revealing the characters’ social status and backgrounds. This makes it easier for the reader to relate to the story’s varied and colorful characters. Character conflict is also established in the first few chapters, which is especially effective in creating the tension that flows and ebbs as we read on. Carefully constructing these characters before the murder reveals several plausible suspects that should not fail to engage readers. And when the inn brings together two groups of people with completely opposing views by hosting two conferences simultaneously, you won’t want to put this book down until you finish it. Murder at the Blue Ox Inn is an intriguing story full of twists and turns with an ending you’ll never expect.