Cowboys and Chaos by Elizabeth Pantley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s time for another book club meeting at the Snapdragon Inn!
As the time approaches for the book club’s next ‘traveling’ meeting, members begin moving back to the Snapdragon Inn. Before this week’s meeting, they must consider who their newest member will be. Everyone brings a dish for the potluck, but before they really get started, they find a stranger roaming around the yard out back.
Dr. Atticus Papadopoulus is an astrobiologist looking into extraterrestrial energy, and the Snapdragon Inn is a significant location for his studies. He and Zell hit it off immediately, and Atticus soon become the club’s new member.
Later, when everyone gathers in the enchanted library, the members present their proposal for the meeting’s book selection. The group unanimously chooses The Mystery of Mollie’s Disappearance, a western mystery set in 1800s Bandana, Arizona, which features a missing saloon girl and hints of a murder.
The globe whirls and turns golden, the mysterious fog floods the library, and the book club members find themselves in an arid but lovely desert overlooking a typical town straight out of Hollywood’s Old West. Dressed to blend in with the population, the group starts their walk into town to find where the Snapdragon Inn has settled, only to run across the one person Paige and Glo never thought they’d see again.
Cowboys and Chaos is another delightful entry in Elizabeth Pantley’s cozy mystery series, the Magical Mystery Book Club, and I hope there will be many more. This book is the club members’ third outing, and I think their adventures keep getting better and better.
Most of the members from previous ‘meetings’ return, and though there are still some clashes between a few personalities, they’ve grown as a group, so these are mild and few and far between. They have progressed to more comfortable interactions with each other.
The story has some good ‘cat snark’ from Frank, the Siamese cat member, and I enjoyed the sassy saloon girl ghost. Forrest’s apparent delight at being in the Old West and arriving wearing a cowboy hat was endearing. I think it was a brilliant choice by the author to have the book club members appear in their book already dressed to blend.
I enjoyed the plot immensely; the book kept me up way late, wanting to read just one more chapter. The book club members ask good questions of their suspects and sources, try to put the pieces they collect into some logical form to develop working theories, and then track down the proof they need to solve the case. Zell has no subtlety or filter but gets answers.
One fun aspect of the series is that that group is always eating or drinking or both. In fact, they are described as taking their meals seriously and often. The new member, Atticus, is a font of interesting historical tidbits, so I learned that the beer in saloons at the time was served at room temperature. Later, Adolphus Busch would create pasteurization and refrigeration methods for his Budweiser brand, which would be the game changer.
With a great group of recurring characters and a well-paced and intriguing mystery to solve, I recommend COWBOYS AND CHAOS (and the entire MAGICAL MYSTERY BOOK CLUB series) to cozy mystery readers who like a unique and fresh paranormal storyline.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.