A stranger walks into a bookstore. Not just any bookstore, though. It’s the famed Book Chalet in the ski-town of Last Word, Colorado, a resort town that draws the rich and famous. The man came in during a local book club meeting where they were re-enacting a séance from an Agatha Christie novel. Naturally, the planchette spelled out D-E-A-D-M-A-N.

He dies, of course.

And Ellie Christie and her sister Meg are witnesses of a sort. Of course, with the last name Christie and owning a mystery bookstore, not to mention being at the scene of the crime, there’s an expectation throughout the town that they will try to solve the murder. However, more pressing for them , their employee Ms. Ridge has disappeared. Given her scrupulous attention to detail and her responsibilities, they won’t accept that she just left.

They suspect and soon discover that Ms. Ridge’s disappearance and the murder are connected. Ellie and Meg are assisted by their grandmother and Meg’s daughter Rosie. Ellie also gets some help from a new romantic interest, an old high school acquaintance who is an enthusiastic skier and snowboarder.

Dead and Gondola is the first in what I hope will be a long series of cozy mysteries featuring the Christie Bookstore. It’s a completely fair mystery. We know what Ellie knows. There are enough red herrings for a buffet and the secondary characters are charming, nuanced, and going to be so much fun to meet again and again. Best of all, I did not solve the mystery half-way through and wonder what what was taking Ellie so long. I was surprised by the resolution and this confirmed for me that this series is going to excel. It turns our expectations on their head and that made me so happy.

It is also just what I needed right now. With so much that is grim in the world, it was a delight to read a book with kind people.

I received an e-galley of Dead and Gondola from the publisher through NetGalley.