Saturday, April 11, 2020

Blog tour and Review: MURDER IN THE SECRET MAZE A Tory Benning Mystery by Judith Gonda


First in a new series featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning!

Landscape architect Tory Benning knows the lay of the land, but she’ll have to dig through the clues to unearth a killer . . .

After a whirlwind romance and a glorious wedding at the luxurious Hotel Santa Sofia, Tory Benning is ready to let down her hair, slip into her dancing shoes, and celebrate—until she discovers that her newly minted husband has vanished. The police suspect cold feet and second thoughts are behind Milo’s disappearance, but Tory’s certain he’s met with foul play. And since she designed the plush resort, she knows every nook and cranny of the grounds and adjoining secret maze, and wastes no time delving into her search.

As clues begin to emerge that Milo may have taken his last breath in the maze, Tory steps up her sleuthing, even as she learns she’s the prime suspect of a cop with a chip on his shoulder and is squarely in the sights of a menacing stalker. And when a second body is found on the grounds, Tory fears she’s up against a killer determined to silence any and all who get in the way. .

Not to be deterred, Tory forges ahead, navigating a case with more twists and turns than the maze itself, until the labyrinth of clues leads her to shocking revelations about her husband, her family, and the identity of a killer who’s dead set on making her the next victim . . . .


Suspects abound and the body count rises in the aftermath of the "I do's" and not-reception. Tory Benning designed the landscaping of the Hotel Santa Sofia, including the very eerie secret maze. She knows her way in the maze more than the average person. While that helps her in her search for her husband of only minutes, it also adds to the suspicion cast her way. Something is definitely not as it seems and at each turn information contradicts what she thinks and knows. 

First off, I would love to see the grounds Tory so meticulously brought to life. The grounds sound beautiful. I tend to agree with her friend, though, about the maze's creepiness in the darkness. This story is well developed with many twists that eventually come together in a believable, yet surprising, way. 

Tory is a likable character. Unfortunately, Milo, now dead, also was a highly likable character. However, there are many other supporting characters, including an investigator looking into the case for her and her best friend. On the other hand, there's the cop who Tory rebuked in high school who has her in his sights for the murderer, with hopes of the arrest getting him promoted. 

The story moves along well, with enough tension and action to maintain attention. This is the first in the series. I'll be looking for the next installment.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Purchase Links 

Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Kobo – Smashwords – Google Play – 

About the Author:

Judith Gonda is a mystery writer and Ph.D. psychologist with a penchant for Pomeranians and puns, so it’s not surprising that psychology, Poms, and puns pop up in her amateur sleuth mysteries featuring landscape architect Tory Benning.

Author Links:

Website –
Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –
Instagram –
GoodReads –
Pinterest –


April 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
April 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
April 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
April 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 11 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
April 11 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
April 12 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
April 13 – Brianne’s Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 14 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW
April 14 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
April 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
April 15 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
April 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
April 16 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
April 17 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
April 19 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
April 19 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
April 20 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW
April 21 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 21 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT


  1. Thank you so very much, Christa, for your kind review! I'm looking forward to reading your books, in particular the Sheridan Hendley mystery series, since I love college-related mysteries (my first book, FRIGHT ON!, yet to be published, features a psychologist married to a USC dean--see my blog for a summary), so I feel we have a lot in common! Thanks again for your kind words!

    1. My pleasure, Judith. I'll look for FRIGHT ON! to be published.

    2. Thanks, Christa! Hopefully someday!

  2. Thank you, Ashley! I love it too, especially the little Pomeranian!