When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . .
Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .
PRAISE FOR SCENE OF THE CLIMB
“A splendid overview of the greater Portland and Columbia River Gorge region, perfect for travel buffs. Her protagonist shows promise with her determined attitude and moxie.” —Library Journal
“A fun, terrific adventure.”—Suspense Magazine
About the Author
Kate Dyer-Seeley is the of author Scene of the Climb, Slayed on the Slopes, and Silenced in the Surf in the Pacific Northwest Mystery series, as well as the memoir Underneath the Ash. Her writing has appeared in Climbing Magazine, The Oregonian, The Columbian, Portland Family Magazine, and The Vancouver Voice. She is an active member of the Willamette Writers Association and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Visit her website at katedyerseeley.com.
Read an Excerpt
First Degree Mudder
By Kate Dyer-Seeley
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Kate Dyer-Seeley
All rights reserved.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Old army barracks
My feet squished inside my drenched kicks as I limped through the damp grass. I'd like to give Billy a swift kick in the shins, I thought, cranking the volume on my phone to high. Maybe Dean Martin's "King of the Road" would give me a final boost. Doubtful. I didn't feel like the king or queen of the road. Quite the opposite.
The rest of my Mind Over Mudder teammates were nowhere in sight. Thank God. I checked behind me twice, just to make sure. I probably could have taken the shortcut straight to the barracks, but I didn't want to risk being seen. That might have been a mistake. The historic grounds gave off an eerie aura, especially the dilapidated army hospital Building 614, to my left. It was rumored to be haunted. I understood why. Built in 1904 during an influenza outbreak, the three-story brick building had served hundreds of infantry men over the decades.
I shuddered to imagine the torture some of them must have endured. Was that a moan? A prickly feeling ran down my spine.
"I think that's a moan," I said aloud as I glanced up at the broken top-story windows. Something ghoulish floated past.
I willed myself forward, ignoring the blisters on my heels or the chafing under my sports bra. It felt like I was breathing underwater. I didn't care. I crested the hill and turned onto Evergreen Boulevard.
Relax, Meg. It's just your mind playing tricks on you. I had read one too many ghost stories when researching the history of Fort Vancouver and its surrounding grounds. The hospital had been abandoned for years, but people swore that things were amiss. Faucets were said to turn on in the middle of the night, bathroom doors banged shut for no reason, faces, like the one I'd just seen, appeared out of nowhere in the windows. The place was haunted. Definitely haunted.
You're fine now, I told myself, slowing my pace.
I followed the flour on the sidewalk that marked the route of our predawn run. It took us past the fort's parade grounds complete with an old-fashioned bandstand and Officer's Row — a row of stately Victorian officers' houses. That's when I saw the creepy old lady again. I'd seen her watching us from her ground-floor apartment before. The twenty-two stately mansions that make up Officer's Row were now used for a variety of purposes. The Grant House had become one of Vancouver's premier restaurants and the Marshall House a favorite spot for weddings. The remaining properties had been converted into commercial and residential space.
Yesterday when I jogged past the creepy old lady's apartment she peeled back one lace curtain and watched me and my teammates. It was unsettling to say the very least.
I stopped to tie my shoe under an ancient oak. Its leaves looked parched from summer's endless sun. My throat commiserated with the tree. I could use an ice-cold glass of water right about now. Pushing myself to standing, all the hairs on my arms stood at attention as a creaking sound came from the creepy old lady's front door. She appeared out of nowhere on the wraparound porch.
Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Where had she come from? I jumped back in surprise. Her glassy eyes bore into me. She wore a faded pink bathrobe and appeared to have been old enough to be one of the original members of the Hudson's Bay Company.
"Hi." I offered a tentative wave.
She didn't move.
I tried again. "Good morning."
Her eyes remained locked on me, but she gave no indication that she'd heard my greeting.
Was she a ghost?
I had no intention of waiting around to find out. I plowed ahead, crossing Evergreen Boulevard and practically hurdling the waist-high wooden fence that ran the length of the grassy parade grounds. My feet revolted as I stumbled down the hill. It felt like someone was sanding my heels with sandpaper.
Pick up the pace, Meg.
The only thing that kept me upright was the promise of a hot shower and the fact that a ghost might be in hot pursuit. I needed to get to the barracks and get out of these shoes. Mud and sweat oozed from every pore. Thankfully, I'd learned my lesson after the first day on the training course and ditched my cute pink tank top and capris for old raggedy sweats and a T-shirt. Everything ended up discolored from the mud. There was no point in trying to look cute while under Billy the Tank's watchful eye and blaring bullhorn.
I cut through the grass, something Billy definitely frowned on. "Reed!" he bellowed in his bullhorn when he caught me sneaking around the back of the barracks last week. "When you take a shortcut you're only cheating yourself."
That was fine by me. I happily owned cheating on myself.
There was a single light on in the otherwise deserted collection of buildings down the hill. The reserve encompassed 366 acres of land. It included Fort Vancouver, Pearson Field, Pearson Air Museum, the barracks, army hospital, Red Cross building, Officer's Row, an old chapel, stables, and non-commissioned officers' houses. The grounds are considered the Pacific Northwest's most important historical site. And this morning I couldn't shake the feeling that there were whispers from the past surrounding me.
My target was the barracks building where the single light glowing golden yellow looked like a welcoming beacon. Billy and his business partner, Dylan, had leased the barracks to use as base camp for their three-week intensive training class Mind Over Mudder. They promised that by the end of the session (If you survived, which at the moment looked doubtful for me.), not only would you be in "fighting shape" to finish a mud run, but you'd also drop pounds and pant sizes. So far the scale hadn't budged when I stepped on it, and I was so exhausted at the end of the day that I felt like dropping dead.
Using the wooden railing, I placed one hand over the other and slowly hauled my body up the ramp. The rotting wooden slats buckled. Please hold, I said a silent prayer to the Universe. The last thing I needed was to crash through the ramp.
Compared with the other buildings, the barracks were in great shape. Everything had sat empty since the army abandoned its post in Vancouver decades earlier. The National Park, along with a trust, had begun renovations on the massive site. The barracks were first on the list, and Mind Over Mudder the first and only tenant at the moment. A sharp splinter lodged itself in my palm. It protruded from my mud-chapped skin. I stopped and yanked it free. Ouch!
Yet another reason to love this training program, I sighed as I opened the front door and stumbled inside. Every muscle in my body quaked. Billy had promised us that muscle pain was a sign that our metabolism was revving up and we were replacing fat with muscles. "Embrace the quakes" was his motto. Easy for him to say. Billy, aka "the Tank," was the fittest person I'd ever met. That was saying a lot given that I write for Northwest Extreme magazine and am constantly surrounded by hard-bodied adventure junkies.
Billy instructed us to call him Tank on the first day of training. He looked like a tank. His stout body bulged with muscle mass. There wasn't an ounce of fat on his body. Let's just say that he was a bit intimidating when he sounded the whistle around his neck, wearing skintight army shorts and a sleeveless shirt specifically designed to show off his enormous muscles.
I scanned the dimly lit hallway to make sure Tank wasn't there. By my estimate, the rest of my teammates should be on the course for another thirty minutes. That should give me ample time to shower, soak my aching soles, and hightail it out of here before anyone was the wiser. I clicked off my music, tugged my earbuds out, and clutched my phone in the hand without the splinter.
The barracks have an ominous vibe even when they're packed with my teammates and coaches. Shuffling down the long, empty hallway made it feel even creepier. Like the army hospital, the barracks are said to be haunted. The top floor was used for gun testing. There are still bullet holes in the walls upstairs, and it was said that you could hear phantom gun shots.
A loud thud sounded below.
I jumped and let out a scream.
My heart pounded in my chest. Relax, Meg. Maybe one of my teammates had the same idea.
I continued on, checking over my shoulder to make sure no one was behind me. The locker rooms were located in the basement. Not exactly where I wanted to be at the moment, but I hobbled down the hardwood stairs anyway.
When I was a few feet away from the locker room doors, they swung open, nearly smacking me in the face.
I jumped again.
Was it the ghost? How were the doors opening? One of the rumors that I'd heard about the haunted buildings was that doors were known to open and close at will.
I backed up.
At that moment someone barreled through the doors and knocked me off my feet.
"Hey!" I caught myself on the wall.
The guy leaped over me and raced down the hallway before I could get a look at his face. I had a pretty good guess who it was — Tim Baxter, one of my fellow teammates. I recognized his bulk and black hooded sweatshirt. What was he doing in the locker room, and why was he in such a hurry?
I pushed to standing. "Tim, where are you going?"
He paused at the front doors.
I noticed a package under his right arm. "Tim!" I called again. "What's going on?"
He froze. I thought maybe I'd made a mistake. My contacts were thick with sludge. I don't see distances very well even when my contacts are perfectly clear. Dirt had formed a thick filmy layer, making my vision blurry. I blinked twice.
The door slammed shut. Tim, or whoever had run into me, was gone.
I brushed myself off and continued into the locker room. Steam enveloped the front area where three massage tables sat empty. Long mirrors stretching the length of the room were completely fogged over. It smelled like stale sweat, moldy wood, and eucalyptus. Someone, probably Tim, must have left the steam room doors open.
Using my hands as a shield to avoid tripping over a bench, I made my way past the massage tables and into the shared steam, sauna, and whirlpool room. Doors on either side of the room led to the men's and women's changing rooms and showers. Originally the barracks housed only men, so when Mind Over Mudder renovated the basement locker room they'd had to get creative with the design. The actual changing areas and showers were private and on opposite sides of each other, but the steam room and hot tub were coed, which meant that bathing suits were always required.
My cheeks burned with heat. Muddy sweat dripped onto the floor. The wet air filled my lungs, making me cough.
I fumbled through the dense layer of steam. My hands landed on the cedar steam room door, which was indeed wide open. Someone had propped it open with one of the locker room benches. Really weird. I pushed the bench away. It made a sound like nails on a chalkboard on the tile floor.
My feet slid across the wet floor. I landed on my tailbone as the steam room door swung shut. Awesome. Two falls in a matter of a few minutes. That had to be a new record for me. At least my phone was safely secured to my arm. I just got a new phone after a little accident with my old phone. Smartphones aren't cheap, especially for a girl on a tight budget. I couldn't risk damaging this one, so I undid the Velcro strap around my arm and placed my phone and earbuds on a bench nearby.
Steam billowed from underneath the door. It reminded me of dry ice on Halloween. Whoever turned it on must have cranked the heat to full blast. I braced myself as I opened the door to shut it off.
I couldn't see my hand in front of my face, but I knew where the dials controlling the heat and steam were. The steam room and I had become besties over the past few days. Nothing soothed my training aches and pains like the moist, warm air.
I found the thermostat and switched it off. I know I shouldn't have, but I climbed onto the cedar slatted bottom bench and drank in the steam. Billy would be furious if he caught me wearing my muddy clothes in the hot, humid room, but I couldn't help it. I was freezing. Just five minutes, Meg, I told myself as my breathing steadied and I sank onto the warm bench. This is exactly what I needed, I could almost feel my muscles begin to relax.
Within minutes the steam began to evaporate and the air began to thin. I opened my eyes. My contacts were like glue. Blinking as hard as I could, I tried to loosen their grip. It didn't work. They felt like sand. I might have to ditch them, I thought as I stood up.
The small cedar room came into soft focus. Someone else was in here with me. I blinked again. "Billy?"
Billy was lying on his back on the top bench with his eyes closed. Why hadn't he said anything? He must be pissed that I snuck out early.
"Listen, Tank, I'm really sorry I took the shortcut. My feet are killing me this morning. I have, like, a thousand blisters."
Billy didn't respond.
"Tank, I'm a reporter, remember. I'm here for a story. It's not like the rest of my teammates." I stood. Spots danced in my vision.
Again Billy didn't respond. I moved closer. Suddenly, I knew why he wasn't responding. Billy wasn't resting.
As I came closer, a horrific sense of dread came over my entire body. Billy was dead.
* * *
You would think that I would have learned my lesson by now. But no. Signing up for Mud, Sweat, and Beers was entirely my idea. I wanted to prove myself as a serious member of the Northwest Extreme team after returning to Portland from a whirlwind week in New York.
It might be hard to believe (it still was for me) that I turned down a job offer at ESPN. ESPN! What was I thinking? Did turning down their generous offer make me wise beyond my years or a total idiot? I wasn't sure, but I was sure that I belonged in Portland.
New York had been exactly as I imagined it — busy and crowded with a constant pulse of people and energy. I loved it. I loved watching throngs of businessmen and women in sharp, smart suits and fancy shoes navigate sidewalks and honking taxis. No one honks in Portland. Cars always yield to pedestrians. Merging into the flow of foot traffic in the Big Apple was as challenging as trudging up deserted wooded backcountry trails in the Pacific Northwest. I almost got run over twice. Thanks to a bystander with quick reflexes I was spared being mowed down by a speeding Uber driver.
Fortunately, I'm a quick study and the social media team at ESPN gave me a quick course in how to blend in like a New Yorker. My first rule was to never look up. Apparently, no one in New York stares at the massive skyscrapers that tower over the city. I couldn't help myself. Some of them seemed as high — if not higher — than Oregon's majestic peaks. I found myself bumping into strangers as I walked with my head tilted up trying to catch a glimpse of the sky through the giant columns of steel and concrete. They were as impressive as the Cascade Mountains and equally intimidating.
My new friends also advised caution at crosswalks. I wasn't in Portland any longer. That was for sure. After two near misses, I learned to stop and wait for the light to change before crossing intersections that hardly ever clear. In no time, I began to feel like a bona-fide New Yorker. And the fashion. Swoon. I could definitely get used to the big-city wardrobe.
Very few Portlanders wear suits. Not true in New York. I appreciated the city's sophisticated style. I usually feel overdressed in my vintage A-line dresses at Northwest Extreme where most of my coworkers arrive in shorts and hiking gear. Many of them don't even bother to shower. Fashion in Portland had been defined by an influx of hipsters who sported shaggy beards, knit caps, flannel shirts, and skinny jeans.
New York brought out the girl in me. I have a serious addiction to pink. I've tried to temper it with my outdoor apparel, but in New York I embraced my love of all things pink, wearing my favorite cashmere cardigan and flared skirt with strappy pink sandals to happy hour and sporting a pink polka dot 1950s number to lunch. I even chopped off my hair on a whim. One afternoon I passed by an upscale hair salon. Without a moment of pause, I walked in the doors and asked the stylist for a modern pixie cut.
Excerpted from First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley. Copyright © 2016 Kate Dyer-Seeley. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Meg Faces a Muddy Mess My love of mud runs has come full circle. I first heard of them when a mystery author I read did one, and now I’ve read First Degree Mudder, set during the training for a mud run. (And yes, I even timed it so that I was reading it the week between doing the Camp Pendleton Mud Run and the Irvine Lake Mud Run this month.) Meg Reed’s newest assignment for Northwest Extreme magazine is to participate in Mud, Sweat, and Beers, a mud run coming to Portland in three weeks. But before that, she’s signing up for Mind Over Mudder, a training course that meets every morning to whip people into shape for the run. The drill instructor running the course is Billy, and he takes his job very seriously. Some might even say too seriously, and after two weeks Meg is seriously questioning her decision to sign up. The Saturday before the race is the first time Meg and her team actually crawl through the mud as part of their training. It doesn’t go well, and Meg sneaks out early instead of completing the rest of the run. However, when she arrives back at the barracks the company uses as their headquarters, she discovers Billy’s body in the steam room. What is going on? First, I’ve got to say that author Kate Dyer-Seeley is much nicer to Billy than I would have been. When I heard mystery set at a mud run, I was expecting the dead body to show up in a mud pit. But that’s completely beside the point. This is now Meg’s fourth mystery, and I really don’t recommend you jump into the series here. In fact, if you do, I think you’ll be disappointed. The mystery of what happened to Billy and why is more of a sub-plot than the focus of the book. Instead, we get stories of Meg’s life changing and some serious twists in the plot of her father’s murder, a series long plot thread. Here’s the thing. As someone who has been following this series since the beginning, I want to know this information. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened next. But without that background, I don’t think I would have been as engrossed in this book. Believe me, with the way this book ends, I’m already looking forward to finding out what happens to Meg next. (Can we say cliffhangers?) Given this, I’m sure it will be no surprise when I say that the characters introduced in this book are good, but not given enough page time to be fully developed. However, the series regulars are more than up to the task of carrying this book. Meg especially continues to grow as the book unfolds. And at the end of the book, we get the usual adventure tips and tour guide if you’d like to go to some of the real places where this book is set. If I sounded overly harsh earlier, let me be clear, the mystery here has some good twists and definitely holds together. It’s just overshadowed by some other developments in Meg’s life that will only mean something to those who already care about Meg. So if you are up to date on Meg’s adventures, you’ll definitely want to read First Degree Mudder. If you are new to the series, I recommend backing up before you dive into these murky waters.
Keeping up with Meg is exhausting, particularly when she’s always in some kind of mess that requires being in much better shape than me. This 4th in the series has her not only dabbling in the mud, but once again in murder. Both her personal and professional life is such a mess we tend to wonder if she will ever get her act together. But if she did, there would be no need for these wonderful, easy to read, mysteries. Dyer-Seeley’s at the top of her game with this series and each new book leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next. I’m very much looking forward to what our author has in store for Meg next.
Title: First Degree Mudder - Pacific Northwest Mystery Book 4 Author: Kate Dyer-Seeley Published: 11-29-2016 Publisher: Kensington Books Pages: 304 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Amateur Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Women Seuths ISBN: 13: 9781496705099 ASIN: B01CMGS41G Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.5 Stars I received a copy of "First Degree Mudder" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description From the Publisher: When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . . Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she's signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . . My Review: Feisty and ambitious Meg Reed leads a grand cast of characters in a marathon mud run. When their trainer turns up dead the list of suspects has the reader sympathizing with them instead of the victim. Billy "The Tank" as a bully and a brute is the type of character you love to hate. In fact all the characters are so well done you can imagine meeting them and empathizing with them. I enjoyed reading "First Degree Mudder" with Kate Dyer- Seeley's descriptive words bringing the scenes to life. I personally never enjoyed playing in mud, but I can still feel the need for an immediate shower after reading a few of the scenes. This is a fast paced novel with a touch of humor and a huge dose of mystery. I gave "First Degree Mudder" a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating. I think this is a great series to be savored by the reader.
FIRST DEGREE MUDDER is a first rate mystery! This is my first book by this author as Kate Dyer-Seeley (I do read and LOVE her Bakeshop Mystery series that she writes as Ellie Alexander). At first I wasn’t sure about this series. The covers, and the descriptions didn’t really say cozy to me. However, once I started reading FIRST DEGREE MUDDER, I forgot all about my very wrong opinions about this series. I liked protagonist Meg Reed from the very first page. Just getting inside her head in the first chapter, I knew this was someone I’d want to be friends with. She has way more energy than I do, and I couldn’t do half of what she does (Meg’s training for a mud run, and two things I don’t do . . . mud or run), but I’d love to sit and trade stories with her. Meg’s trainer is the victim in FIRST DEGREE MUDDER. Who would want to kill the former drill sergeant, Billy, is the question Meg wants answered. Kate Dyer Seeley takes readers on an action packed adventure as we search for answers into Billy’s death, and a few other mysteries that pop up along the way. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be breathless by the end. It has taken me too long to get in to this series. I’m thrilled to have had the chance to read FIRST DEGREE MUDDER, and I can’t wait to go back and read the first three books! Make sure to check out the back of FIRST DEGREE MUDDER for Meg’s Adventure Tips!
First Degree Mudder by Katie Dyer-Seeley is the fourth book in A Pacific Northwest Mystery series. Mary Margaret “Meg” Reed has just returned to Portland from New York where she turned down a job with ESPN and got a new pixie haircut. She needs to have a new story pitch ready for Greg (her boss) and comes up with Mud, Sweat and Beers—their inaugural mud run. In order to prepare for the race, Meg signs up with Mind over Mudder. Mind over Mudder is a marathon training course. Meg will document her training for Northwest Extreme’s (the magazine she works for) online readers and for her article. The course is run by partners, Billy the Tank (the trainer) and Dylan (a naturopath). They even have their own line of supplements that they recommend for the people taking this intense course. Greg approves her article idea, but he has some news of his own. Greg does not feel he can take Northwest Extreme to the next level (online) and his selling out (after Meg just turned down the job at ESPN). There are more changes coming Meg’s way. Her best friend, Jill has received a scholarship to an art institute in Italy and will be gone for a year. Matt, friend and could-be-more, is also moving away. He has gotten a new job about three hours from Portland. Meg starts Mind over Mudder and finds that Billy is very much the drill sergeant (with a terrible attitude). One day Meg sneaks away from training and heads for the locker room. Someone nearly knocks her over when she enters. There is steam rolling out of the steam room open doors. Meg finds Billy dead in the steam room with a Mind over Mudder bandana wrapped around his throat. Meg cannot believe this is happening to her again. Detective Bridger is assigned the case (a new guy) along with Kenny, a police officer from Vancouver, Washington (who flirts with Meg). Meg, of course, cannot help but doing a little investigating on her own. First Degree Mudder is an easy to read cozy mystery. The mystery, though, is not at the forefront of this novel. We get more information on the craft beer scene, mocha lattes, pubs, Jill’s new opportunity in Italy, Meg’s new haircut (which she mentions several times throughout the story), Greg selling the magazine, Meg’s attraction to Matt and then Kenny, and the food truck scene. We also get details on how strenuous and filthy Mind over Mudder is for Meg. I give First Degree Mudder 3 out of 5 stars. The killer is easy to figure out (it is really no puzzle). I was disappointed that the case of Pop’s (Charlie, Meg’s father) killer is still unresolved. It has been referenced in every book since the beginning, and it is past time to wrap it up. I did not mention everything that happened in the book (Gam and her beau, Sheriff Daniels for instance). I just wish the author would put a little more effort into the main mystery in each book and less into the outdoor activities (and the secondary mystery). I did enjoy the reference to Grimm in the novel (which filmed in Portland).
This is the first book I've read by this author. I was entertained all the way through and it a very good story too. Meg Reed is a reporter who will do just about anything for a story, even running in a mud marathon. To go deep into the story, Meg joins a group of people who are training for the same thing. The leader, Billy, is a drill sergeant and Meg isn't sure she will survive the training. Somebody didn't like Billy and it was Meg who stumbled over his body in the steam room. With her investigative juices running, Meg digs deep and encounters startling information along the way. I think this story will appeal to all cozy mystery fans. I look forward to reading more in this series. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley.
I voluntarily reviewed this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.I have been reading this series from the first book Scene of the Crime,So I was excited to be approved to read this book too.I love the characters,and the storyline.If you haven't read this series yet,I highly recommend it.You will fall in love with Meg and her friends.
I have been tempted by books in this series several times but kept passing them over because there are so many great books to read and I am not into extreme sports. Now I have to go back and read the first three books because First Degree Mudder captured me with both the characters and the overall plot. There seems to be an ongoing arc that I really want to investigate which will lead me back to those earlier novels before the next book comes out. I can't put my finger on why I was so pulled into the story because the murder isn't as complex as many, but Meg's investigation peaked my interest as much as she and her friends did. When Meg quickly grabbed a topic to present for her next article she never expected all the changes that life would bring while she was working on it. Friends leaving, questions about others, new friends endangered and a horrendous training program all fill her life to overflow and most of it isn't good. After turning down a position at ESPN, Meg returns home to find out that her magazine may be selling out! Her work with social media may keep her job but she feels the need to make this story outstanding so she signs up to train for and participate in Portland's first mud run! For those of you who don't know Meg, she is not a runner, she is not an exerciser, she is not a sports enthusiast. She is a great eater and really loves microbrewery beers. It is only 5k, how bad can that be? As anyone can guess, she is not prepared for the intensity level of the three week boot camp style training program. Nor is she prepared to discover the body of her much hated training instructor but she feel compelled to discover the who killed him. I requested and read the advanced reader's copy of this book via Netgalley. The review is fully voluntary. I always review books that I love.