Booktown Mystery #10
By Lorna Barrett
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Tricia and Angelica leave Booktown behind for a pleasure cruise, but they’re going to need their life jackets because a murderer has also booked passage—in Lorna Barrett’s New York Times bestselling series.
While her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, is rebuilt following a devastating fire, Tricia Miles and her sister, Angelica, decide to book a cruise for some much needed R&R. Naturally they choose a Mystery Lovers cruise, where they can ponder whodunnit in Adirondack chairs while sipping colorful drinks and soaking up some rays.
But the fun is cut short when a fellow passenger is murdered for real. Is the killer a famous mystery author, one of his fans, or a member of the ship’s crew? As Tricia tries to find the killer before they reach port, she may be cruising for a bruising…(from Goodreads)
This is the first Booktown Mystery that I have read for a while, and I was instantly reminded how delightful and intellectually stimulating this series is. Lorna Barrett is at her best, with brilliant, likable characters, dialog, and an exciting setting. Who else but serious booklovers would take a Mystery Lover’s Cruise to Bermuda in January? Who else but Tricia would just have to ask a few questions here and there to find the killer cruise member?
Neither Tricia nor her sister Angelica have taken a vacation for years. When the Stoneham, NH Chamber of Commerce was given a special rate for a cruise, it was hard to decline, since this “Authors at Sea” cruise is for booksellers, readers, and authors. Tricia hopes to connect with authors to set up book signings at her mystery book store, Haven’t Got a Clue. Angelica, cookbook seller and author, wants to meet famous chef and cookbook author, Larry Andrews.
The most famous author on the cruise was EM Barstow. The sisters were appalled, however, to see how terrible Ms. Marstow treated her unpaid fan club president/ personal assistant, Dori Douglas, and editor, Cathy Copper. The young editor’s disdain for Ms. Barstow is evident, while Dori refuses to say a negative word for the woman who treated her like a servant. Ms. Barstow was even rude to her fans, including creepy cozy mystery author fan Arnold Smith. Tricia, once nicknamed the village jinx, lived up to the hated name when she found EM Barstow dead in her stateroom, an apparent suicide.
Amidst fancy meals and elegant surroundings on board the Celtic Lady, Tricia and Angelica try to relax and enjoy the cruise without thinking about their respective businesses or Barstow’s death. A surprise luncheon in Bermuda backfires, and someone sends Tricia several anonymous gifts that lead to the concern of there being a stalker on board. It becomes more and more difficult to remember that this is a vacation, not a series of challenges to overcome.
The reader is allowed to see the perspective of cozy mystery authors with regards to their lifestyles, the work put into each lovingly-crafted novel, a social media presence, and expectations from fans and publishers. It is enlightening and generates a new level of respect for our favorite authors and their publishing houses.
First, many thanks to the author for the list of characters! Whether one is a first time visitor to Booktown or a faithful reader needing a refresher, it is a huge help. Tricia and Angelica are very well defined, I feel that I especially got to know Tricia very well. Other folks are described as necessary as suits their roles. One of the things I enjoy about the characters – other than their respective idiosyncrasies – is the variety of ages. Tricia and Angelica are middle-aged, allowing a refreshing perspective of people closer to this reader’s age. What Tricia learns about herself after the Bermuda surprise was enlightening and making her, and likewise Angelica, even more realistic.
The plot is delectably complex! There are so many good suspects when a victim treats most of the people in her life poorly. Some of the passengers, both authors and fans, are among those who could have done the woman in. The fact that the ship’s security team wants to consider the death a suicide frustrates Tricia as the facts she saw don’t add up. Even though she didn’t like the woman, she wants justice for her. Protecting the cruise line’s reputation is nothing compared to protecting the many passengers still on board. For Tricia to try to narrow down the suspect pool and the real motive(s) is upsetting to Angelica, who worries about losing her beloved sister. The bad guy(s)/ gal(s) were not entirely a surprise, but the motives definitely were! The novel closes on a positive note, leaving no loose ends. I highly recommend Title Wave to those who love very well-written cozy mysteries, books and authors, and even windows into what a cruise might be like.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*