What do you get when you cross travel writing with a cozy mystery series? I think you’d come up with Sue Henry’s Maxie and Stretch mystery series. In this series we meet Maxie McNabb and her miniature dachshund Stretch. Together the two travel around in their RV visiting friends, exploring local sights, and solving crime. Sue Henry has written many novels but Maxie and Stretch first appear in the novel, Dead North and subsequently are given their own series consisting of The Serpents Trail, The Tooth of Time, The Refuge and The End of the Road.
In The Serpents Trail, Maxie packs up her RV and she and Stretch head from Alaska to Colorado. Maxie’s longtime friend, Sarah, has taken ill and has requested Maxie come visit her and help with something she is hesitant to discuss on the telephone. When Maxie arrives in Colorado she gets far more than a visit with her friend; instead, she is thrown into a chaotic scene filled with burglaries, secrets and murder. Maxie soon learns Sarah has a lot of secrets in her past and those secrets just might be the motive for murder.
Maxie is a likeable and admirably independent character and Stretch is the perfect companion. Once I finished The Serpents Trail I hoped Maxie and Stretch could pick me up in the RV and take me along for the ride. Since that wasn’t possible, I did the next best thing and picked up the next book in the series. The second Maxie and Stretch installment is titled The Tooth of Time and takes us to Taos, New Mexico. Maxie has just started to settle into Taos and begin exploring and enjoying the area when a local woman Maxie has become acquainted with is found dead. Maxie hunts for the killer while giving the reader a tour of some of the beauty and interest the Southwest has to offer.
The landscape and setting of the Maxie and Stretch novels get nearly equal billing to the mystery portions of the novels. This may be a distraction to fans of hardboiled mysteries but is quite appealing for me. I recommend this series to fans of cozy mysteries. I also recommend this series to fans of Nevada Barr’s Ana Pigeon series; although Nevada Barr’s books are grittier, I think fans of the outdoor settings and national parks featured in Barr’s books will also appreciate Henry’s books.