Fade to White
Wendy Clinch
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Buy *Fade to White: A Ski Diva Mystery* by Wendy Clinch online

Fade to White: A Ski Diva Mystery
Wendy Clinch
272 pages
January 2011
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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When former top-grossing movie star Harper Stone arrives in Vermont’s Spruce Park to shoot a commercial, everything comes to a standstill, including the best chair lift to the pristine slopes of the mountain. Stacey Curtis left Boston after a bitter break with her ex-fiancé, Brian Russell, seeking refuge in the sport she loves. In fact, Stacey works only to support a small rental with the local sheriff and his wife and hit the mountain before anyone else each morning. Now, not only is the best lift closed, but the star-struck residents can talk about nothing else but Harper Stone. As expected, Stone is afflicted with the arrogance of celebrity and a waning career, reduced to filming a commercial and signing the autographs of yokels. But hey, there’s a camera.

The air is thin in the mountains of Vermont, but so, unfortunately, is Clinch’s plot: a missing man, a dead body, a local drug dealer and an ex-fiancé trying to downplay his infidelity and seduce Stacey back into his bed. But Stacey is busy playing with Ski Patrol Skip, night skiing, flirting with the chance of a real date, and generally acting as though this is her first rodeo. Between Stacey’s juvenile behavior with Skip, her nights at the bar to earn money for skiing and her inveterate snooping, she only peripherally inserts herself into the resolution of a murder - just in time to hog the glory.

Meanwhile, we are forced to endure endless digressions into Stone’s past, the weary crew who deal with his antics and a mysterious tattoo that holds the key to everything. Clinch’s enthusiasm for the sport is clear, her protagonist focused on her avocation. Like the other characters and the plot, everything else is incidental. Then there’s the problem of two murders in a remote Vermont ski resort since Stacey arrived on the scene from Boston. Petty crimes, even drugs don’t stretch believability, but two murders? People might start to wonder if Stacey has brought a curse along with her irreverent attitude. Too many contradictions and not enough substance make this second effort a disappointment. Stacey Curtis may be a viable character, but not without some retooling and a lot more sophisticated plot.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2011

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