Monday, January 18, 2010

Murder Under the Loon by Gerald Anderson


Murder Under the Loon by Gerald Anderson is a traditional ethnic cozy.  

Set in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, a quiet Nordic town, the book involves the murder of the owner-president of a prosperous local hail insurance agency.

John Hofstead dies in what appears to be a snowmobile accident on a dangerous sub-zero night.   Fellow workers find Hofstead dead under a well-known loon statue on a nearby lake.  Apparently, he accidentally ran his snowmobile into the concrete base of the statue and then, as he lay unconscious, he froze to death in the twenty-below-zero weather.

Hofstead had set up a mid-winter resort retreat for the members of his small firm and their wives.  He planned to announce his retirement as president and to tell them who would be the next president of the company, a sure way to motivate a murder.

There is also a backstory, the murder of a young librarian on the University of Iowa campus in the early 1970's.

To me, the real attraction of the cozy was its setting.  The book is filled with jokes and ethnic references.  To give just one quote which gives the flavor of the setting:  "[Sheriff Palmer] Knutson winced.  It looked like Peterson was about to tell another Norwegian joke.  It wasn't that Palmer didn't like Norwegian jokes, but he only liked them when they were told by a fellow Norwegian.  Peterson was a Swede, and a supercilious one at that."

In other words, these good Nordic people have their rivalries, it seems. 

This book was an excellent respite from the more serious stuff I've been reading lately.  It is truly a cozy--one current murder and a host of suspects, all presented in a leisurely way.

For me, this book was quick, relaxing reading.

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