By Lorna Barrett
Sisters Tricia and Angelica Miles are excited to leave the picturesque village of Stoneham, New Hampshire during the snowy month of January for a mystery lovers cruise around the Caribbean. The cruise, on the luxury ocean liner Celtic Lady, is being sponsored by the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce, of which Angelica is the current president. The timing of the cruise is perfect for Tricia. Her mystery bookstore, Haven’t Got A Clue, is being rebuilt after a devastating fire, and several of the mystery writers who’ve given talks at her bookstore are featured members of author panels being presented on the cruise. All the sisters want to do for the next seven days is relax and enjoy themselves without any stress or interruptions. And if Tricia could manage to escape her hometown reputation for frequently tripping over dead bodies, that’d be a bonus.
But even before the Celtic Lady leaves port, Tricia and Angelica witness a display of temper and bad manners by EM Barstow, a best-selling thriller author. Tricia hosted Barstow at her bookstore once years ago, and the woman was so difficult and demanding that Tricia vowed that she’d never deal with her again. As the cruise progresses, Barstow continues her bad behavior by insulting many of the ship’s passengers and crew members, including her fellow mystery writers, her editor, and the long-suffering president of her fan club.
Returning to her stateroom one night, Tricia passes by Barstow’s suite and notices that the door is ajar. Curious, she can’t help but investigate, and finds the mystery author dead: an apparent suicide. But there’s no suicide note, and Barstow had made so many enemies on the trip that Tricia’s positive the author was murdered. The ship security officer disagrees, so Tricia starts her own on-board investigation, determined to find the killer before the ship arrives back in New York.
“Title Wave” is another satisfying addition to the prolific Lorna Barrett’s Booktown Mystery series. Check it out.