Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fleur de Lies

Author:  Maddy Hunter
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

When intrepid travel agency owner Emily Andrew-Miceli takes her band of tech-savvy seniors to France, they say “Bonjour” by cruising down the Seine River. Along for the ride are a colorful cast of cruise-goers, including four sales reps who are the crème de la crème of the cosmetic industry and a group of morticians looking for a little joie de vivre as they sort out business conflicts. But once a guest is found dead along Normandy’s famed Alabaster coast, Emily bids adieu to the hopes of a fatality-free trip. Was it a mishap? Or was murder the entrée du jour? Traveling from the medieval alleyways of Rouen to Monet’s famous water lily garden, Emily must untangle a web of lies that began a half-century ago, on the very eve of the D-Day invasion.

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Emily Andrew-Miceli is back at it again.  She is a tour guide par excellence, ferrying her band of senior citizens all over the world.  This small and colorful group of people enjoy traveling, and even though Emily in her turn enjoys being with them, they are usually (okay, always) quite a handful to deal with.

This time out, the group is on a river cruise in France.  Not only are they discovering the country, but a few of them - along with other travelers - are rediscovering the France they knew during World War II.  At first all seems harmless enough, but when a "home visit" to a local family reunites one of Emily's charges with an old love, suddenly things begin to get sticky.  Not that that's anything unusual for this group - anyone who has read the previous books in this series knows that the unusual is the usual for the seniors, but the chance meeting starts a chain of events that not only involves Emily's charges, but other people on the tour as well.

And there are plenty - Emily's ex-husband-turned-transsexual Jackie is aboard, as a star representative for Mona Michelle cosmetics, along with the other three women who have pushed sales through the roof - Krystal, Dawna and Bobbi; the company's owner, Victor Martin and his wife Victoria; funeral home owner Woody Jolly, and his son/partner Cal, who are with a group of others in their profession.

So when one of the guests on the cruise is killed in what is at first thought to be accidental but eventually discovered to be murder (and we would expect no less, knowing that Emily could not be so lucky to have an accidental death on one of her tours), everyone on the ship is scrutinized, and while Emily is trying to control her group, she realizes that the murder is tied into something she discovered early on during their trip.

This book is funny when the seniors are running around; and you discover that Emily really doesn't have any control over them at all (although she likes to pretend that she does anyway).   You have Woody spouting funeral arrangements to anyone who will listen and his son Cal trying to get him to knock it off, while the female sales reps are as catty as you would expect them to be (except poor naive Jackie, who hasn't been a female long enough to really get it).  There are interesting tidbits about World War II scattered throughout the book, so any history buff should enjoy that; and the plot is woven in a tangle of knots and red herrings that even I was surprised when I found out the killer (and I'm usually pretty good at it, but this time she surprised even me).  I would recommend this and the rest of Ms. Hunter's books to anyone who enjoys a humorous read along with historical facts and 'armchair traveling'.  Purely delightful.

http://www.amazon.com/Fleur-Lies-Passport-Peril-Mystery/dp/0738737984/


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