M.E. Browning’s new series starring Detective Jo Wyatt is off to a strong start with Shadow Ridge, featuring a nicely twisted plot and brisk pace.

The author of the Agatha-nominated Mer Cavallo Mysteries brings her former police captain experience to the book, set in the town of Echo Valley, a nature-filled area of Colorado.

When Jo is called out to what appears to be a suicide case, she still takes all the precautions she should if it turns out that video game designer Tye Horton didn’t kill himself. Something feels off to her.

The young woman who found Horton, Quinn Kirkwood, seems to be keeping secrets, even as she asks Jo for help with an internet stalker. Quinn was a beta tester for one of Horton’s lucrative games, as were several others in the area. An eccentric and unreliable character, Quinn has her own baggage.

Then a tragic car accident takes a second life, and as Jo investigates, she realizes there are ties to Horton, and that Quinn’s life is in danger. Suddenly, Horton’s suicide seems unlikely. As she tries to pair Quinn’s stalker with a deadly killer, her small community will face a bigger tragedy than it has even seen.

Browning does a great job of exploring Jo’s personal life and its disappointments, along with the rigors of being a woman in a police force where men are promoted. The setting is engaging, and the characters well-drawn.

Jo is a smart woman with the skill set needed to be a great detective, and can more than handle the lead in what promises to be an entertaining and suspenseful series.