Molten Mud Murder is published by the excellent Poisoned Pen Press, a small press that is dedicated to mystery fiction. This is author Johnson’s first novel and the first in a projected series.
American protagonist, Alexa, is a forensics examiner whose specialty is teeth. She has come to New Zealand on a fellowship, falls in love with the country and wants to stay longer. She manages to insert herself into the murder case involving a city counselor.
What I struggled with a little: Alexa took many risks that felt plot driven. Some mysteries, such as what happened to her friend, Mary, were not fully solved. Perhaps that is for another book.
What I liked: The setting on the North Island of New Zealand and the ways in which the landscape is brought vividly to life. The information about tribal Maori customs and rituals. That there was a back story for Alexa. The hint of romance between her and Bruce, the Senior, a term for the chief detective. The details on forensic examination.
This mystery should appeal to armchair travelers, lovers of New Zealand and those who enjoy action packed mysteries. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this proof in return for an honest review. I look forward to the author’s next book.