by Sandra Murphy
Details on how to win a copy of The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper at the end of this review, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
Sandy Fairfax was a teen idol like David Cassidy. Once he got older, things didn’t go so well. Now after a wakeup call (aka threat) from his ex-wife regarding his kids, he’s stopped drinking, broke up with Crazy Helen and has found a way to make amends with his blind sister as well as getting a cool gig on a cruise ship.
It’s hard talking Celeste into taking the job though. She’s shy in public and hasn’t performed in years. However, Sandy is up to the task. He’s back at the gym to work off some alcohol pounds, got new choreography for a little dance portion of the performance and has Celeste at his house so she can practice too.
The cruise is just for a few days with two performances a night. Smooth sailing, right? Not so much. The performers tend to dine together, separate from the band members. Sandy finds himself with a magician and daughter/assistant, a ventriloquist whose dummy goes everywhere with him and never censors what he has to say, the lounge piano player and the principals in the big show. One is Jodie–she’s the main singer and is more obnoxious than the ventriloquist’s dummy, enough for Sandy to think eating in his cabin alone would be more fun and better company. They have all been on multiple cruises.
Jodie ends up missing the final curtain from the first performance and is a no-show for the second. Her understudy is thrilled to take her place. Sandy is stunned to find Jodie’s very dead body sitting at his makeup table in his dressing room wearing one of his signature scarves wrapped too tightly around her neck. Still, the show must go on so he does a fast change of clothes, powders his nose and is back on stage in three minutes flat–or so.
Unfortunately, security on board is mostly for stolen items, squabbles among guests or the drunk who insists on “just one more.” The doctor’s job is sea sickness and sunburns. It’s up to police at the home port to investigate and once everyone disembarks, how can they follow any clues?
It’s sad that no one is mourning Jodie. In fact, they are all gleeful that she’s dead. It seems she had a few sideline businesses going on in addition to performing–like blackmail, theft and prostitution.
Sandy’s old television show (Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth) was about a boy detective, so squeaky clean he made the Hardy Boys look like Fonzie. He’s been involved in a couple of cases as an adult so why not investigate? There are more twists and turns than there are corridors and portholes though so it’s not as easy as it sounds.
An endless supply of suspects, side plots, his fan club, Crazy Helen appearances and everywhere, the temptation of booze. Will the adult version of Buddy Brave be able to solve the mystery before the ship docks? Before the murderer comes after him? Stay tuned and keep turning the pages.
Sandy and Celeste are fun together as she tells embarrassing stories from their childhood and he delights in her re-found career. The fan club is truly loyal. The other performers? Well, they are just nuts but mostly in a good or at least tolerable way.
This is the third in the series. The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper and The Sinister Sitcom Caper were first. They are easily read out of sequence but you’ll want to go back for the ones you’ve missed.
To enter to win a copy of The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Cunning,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 24, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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Use this link to purchase a copy of the book & a portion will go to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy: