Snowed Inn by Heather Horrocks

allie_c_reads's review

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Snowed Inn was easily one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time. There were so many problems with this book and yet so much potential. The premise consisted of a great idea: a bunch of famous writers, including some big time mystery writers, go to the Who-Dun-Him Inn, a mystery themed inn, with their agent. But when somebody winds up dead in the middle of a snowstorm, there’s no telling what these authors could have gotten themselves into.

First off, I love the Who-Dun-Him Inn. This sounds like a place I would love to go to. The name is totally cheesy, but it also works at the same time. But the bedrooms alone make this place seem like a dream destination for me, as each room is modeled after some famous detective’s room. There’s a room based on Sherlock Holmes, which is more than enough to excite me. But despite the unique setting of the book, there were too many problems, beginning with too many characters. In addition to Vicki, the owner of the inn, there are Vicki’s three family members staying with her during opening weekend, three actors helping to put on a murder mystery show during dinner and end up staying the entire time, eight guests/writers/agents, two cops (who are also Vicki’s brother and her twin sister’s ex-boyfriend), one likely murder suspect, and one newspaper writer/chef/potential love interest for Vicki (who shares all of two brief scenes with Vicki before she’s falling all over him). That’s not even including some of the other characters who are brought up more than once, such as Vicki’s deceased husband (who is way too present of a character for a dead guy, one who’s not even a ghost) and her cousin ‘Manny Much’ (nicknamed such because he’s had a lot of wives or girlfriends, who has absolutely no purpose in this novel other than to call Vicki twice and try to convince her to join him on some scam to get rich quick). I couldn’t keep all these characters straight, especially when they were all up to no good and hiding secrets from each other. I don’t even think the author could keep them all straight.

At times, there were sentences that didn’t really make sense in the context. For example, Vicki hangs her coat up, along with BJ’s, one of her guest, while the men hang their own coats up. This is already very insignificant, but then the author talks about how BJ didn’t notice and couldn’t see Vicki in the mirror, without ever saying what she didn’t notice. It felt out of place, unnecessary, and kind of confusing to try and figure out what Horrocks meant by this. There were also some difficulties with names, as Bobbi Jo (BJ) became Bobby Jo on occasion and Vicki was referred to as Ms. Ross and Mrs. Butler so many times back and forth that I forgot who both of those people were, so it seems consistency may not be Horrocks’s strong suit. There are other errors that show a lack of solid editing, such as the question asked “so what story did you tell you about me?”, the word “he” being spelled “h”, “the” spelled “teh”, and “get” spelled “geet”. I also have a problem with the pet name “Fluffi”. Why is it spelled with an ‘i’?! It’s only ever said, not written down, so why would anyone ever assume it’s Fluffi with an ‘i’ and not a ‘y’?

In addition to not keeping her characters straight, the author couldn’t keep her facts straight. The phone isn’t working: turns out somebody cut the line, as one of the authors had joked. One chapter later, one guest wants to know if someone called 911, to which Vicki responds, “There’s still no dial tone.” Of course there isn’t a dial tone! The line was cut, and you all know this already! At one point, they’re making waffles for breakfast but serving pancakes? Another moment Vicki’s parents are in Spain to pick up her brother from his time in the military, but later they’re in Spain to bring Vicki’s nephew home from a church mission. Then the other guests just assume the mystery play is still going on, including one of the men who chased after a potential suspect, searched the house completely twice. I’m sorry, but wouldn’t that man’s first assumption to “there’s been a murder” be that there’s a good chance of this being real? What ever happened to another guest knowing that Vicki had to take out a second mortgage for the inn (even though at first she claimed that it was all covered by her late husband’s insurance money)? How the heck did Martha know about the second mortgage? The world may never know because Horrocks clearly forgot to address that important detail that left both the reader and Vicki wondering.

Other problems occurred strictly based on what Horrocks wrote. Vicki also needs to rethink her parenting strategies. Telling her seven year old son that somebody was murdered definitely sounds like a good plan. It would be different if her son knew the dead man, but he didn’t so maybe she should rethink telling him - oh well, too late. At least she cared more about her nieces and didn’t tell them. Seems like a questionable parenting strategy to me. I would have waited to explain to my son what happened when I was calm and had a plan to address it with him, but apparently Vicki and I have different ideas about addressing murder with children. Also if her inn is the same one that’s been in her family forever, why does she have to point it out to her brother, a police officer? Wouldn’t he know that’s the inn, even in the snow? Likewise, is it too obvious or ironic that one of the guests immediately thinks the murderer is BJ’s ex-husband when this guest wasn’t even there when the ex attacked in the first place? An even better question is why the police would believe that BJ kissed a mirror and wrote “how does it feel?” with lipstick in the room where her fiancé was murdered. That makes zero sense; obviously it’s some kind of threat, a message from somebody unhappy with the couple. But the cops assume that BJ did it for herself? For her own amusement? How does that make any sense?

Nothing about this book made sense. The killer was kind of obvious, especially when you realize that it’s the one person everyone safely assumed couldn’t have done it because she was supposedly sick. Since when is that a good motive? Especially when she was all by herself the entire night, with nobody to be her alibi? The motive was also just over done. There were too many random references to Mormons, as well. I’m assuming Horrocks herself is a Mormon, and I respect that. I respect making Vicki and her family Mormons as well. But throwing that fact in every single chapter, when it had absolutely zero relevancy, was too much. It would have been different if it helped solve the murder, but it was just unnecessary details that bogged down the story more than it was already. I may have checked into the Who-Dun-Him Inn for Snowed Inn, but I will not be returning for the other books in this series. Once was more than enough for me. I don't often leave reviews, but I felt it necessary to write this as a warning.

attytheresa's review

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"Was it legal to shoot morning people for being too perky before ten?"

How do you resist a cozy mystery that has lines like that? Or one set in a mountain top inn during a blizzard where a bunch of authors and their agent are spending the equivalent of a corporate retreat that includes solving a fake murder mystery? You don't. You settle in and just enjoy young widowed innkeeper Vicki, her identical twin sister who arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly without her husband but with their pistol-packing colorful Granny, her son and his invisible dog, her brother the local police chief, the group of actors performing in the mystery, and of course the unexpected mystery guest.

I actually enjoyed this, the first in a series set at Who-Dun-Him Inn. Oh, did I fail to mention this delightful inn on the top of a mountain is mystery themed? Sign me up for the Jessica Fletcher Room, please, which even boasts a bicycle just like Jessica's as part of the decor, and yes, I would love to play Clue in the parlor of an evening.

Yes, there actually is a rather good intricate plot amongst all this adorableness, even though considering there is allegedly the worst blizzard in history raging ouside for 2 days, an awful lot of people manage to wander in and out of the Inn and up and down the mountain without harm, hypothermia, or even getting wet. And all the bits of history about Vicky's ancestor and his 3 sister wives just added to the unusual charm of this cozy murder mystery.

And how did I forget to mention that this is set in Utah, within a Mormon family? Well who cares when you get to imagine staying in the Kinsey Milhone room, all tricked out to replicate exactly Kinsey's rebuilt studio in G is for Gumshoe.

yarnpirate's review

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I downloaded this book because I enjoyed Heather Horrocks's Christmas novella, Bah...Humbug! and I felt that I should support an author who gave me free Christmassy entertainment. I will admit that it took me quite a while to get into this book. There was a lot of setup, and I found myself getting lost as all the Who-Dun-Him-Inn guests arrived and moved about the property. I couldn't keep track of the numerous characters, I was struggling to follow the witty dialogue, and despite all the chaos nothing much seemed to be happening.

About half way thorugh the story, I realized I was sucked in. Either the author hit her stride or I finally sorted the characters enough to relax - probably it was a combination of the two. The characters were enjoyable, the mystery was just twisty enough to amuse me (even though I had my suspicions early on) and I found the writing charming. If you can find the patience for an over-long and sometimes confusing setup, I'd say this little mystery novel is worth a read in the end. If there is a sequel, I will certainly give it a try.