Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Murder Packs a Suitcase-Cynthia Baxter

Murder Packs a Suitcase
Cynthia Baxter
Bantam, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN 9780553590357

With the recent death of her beloved husband David and at the not so subtle shove by her adult daughter Amanda and encouraged by her eighteen years old somewhat self sufficient university bound and expert remote user son Jordon, forty-five years old Mallory Marlowe seeks employment. Even with a good endorsement from Carol the editor of the Rivington Record where Mallory freelanced she has doubts about getting the job as a travel writer at Good Life Magazine. Managing Editor Trevor Pierce hires her because he believes she will bring maturity not beer to her articles. He expects her to go on location up to a week a month.

Her first assignment is to visit Orlando along with other writers to see what is left of the affectionately dubbed “Old Florida”. When odious writer Phil Diamond is murdered, the police suspect Mallory killed him as she holds the murder weapon when his corpse is found floating in a pool at the Polynesian Princess Hotel. Not trusting the cops to do a complete inquiry, Mallory investigates only to conclude everyone on the writer’s junket had a motive to see Diamond dead. As she continues her responsibilities for the Good Life by staying on tour, Mallory begins to solve the homicide.

The tour of Florida is the highlight of this entertaining amateur sleuth mystery as readers glimpse attractions outside of the big guns. Mallory is an interesting middle aged protagonist though one must wonder where the sudden spunk comes from to invesitgate even if she has investigative experience from being a reporter. Although at times the Old Florida tour supersedes the whodunit, fans will enjoy Marlowe’s first travel anti-noir cozy.

Harriet Klausner