A writers’ workshop becomes a primer for a real-life killer.
ER nurse Darcy Cavanaugh and her lesbian friend, fellow nurse Marie, are presenting “The Nurse’s Guide to Murder,” their seminar in methods of murder, during a Caribbean cruise they’re enjoying for free. The only fly in the ointment is the mother of Darcy’s boyfriend, prim southern belle Angela Skyler, an aspiring mystery writer. Darcy’s plan to curry favor with Angela by getting her an interview with Thea Kenyon seems like a perilous decision when she learns that the famous agent and critic is notorious for her viciously cutting criticisms. Thea travels with a foul-mouthed parrot and her put-upon assistant Barbara Fedders, who gamely makes excuses for the boss she admires for her literary talents, if not her social ones. The seminar proves all too popular with someone who starts putting its ideas into practice. When Thea turns up in her bathtub electrocuted by her ever-present laptop, Darcy tries to protect Angela, a blackmail victim and prime suspect. Straitlaced Angela is keeping a dangerous secret that involves Darcy’s parents, but Darcy soon realizes that there are many other unhappy mystery writers who may have turned on Thea. Fighting off the attentions of a hunky male model, she hunts down the true motive.
The latest of Calvert’s shipboard romps (Aye Do or Die, 2007, etc.) is short on mystery but still amusing.