A mother-daughter team of travel experts is invited on a luxury train trip across Patagonia during which Murphy’s law reigns supreme.
Amy Abel runs Amy’s Travel and fronts for her mother, who ghostwrites the TrippyGirl blog running under Amy’s name that inflates and fictionalizes the pair’s globe-trotting adventures (Dearly Departed, 2016, etc.). Ever alert for new ways to publicize their planned volume, TrippyGirl’s World, Fanny Abel is eager to accept Chilean entrepreneur Jorge O’Bannion’s invitation to join several allegedly renowned travel mavens on the maiden voyage of the New Patagonian Express through notoriously isolated parts of Argentina and Chile. Overcoming Amy’s token resistance to the idea, Fanny sweeps her off to Buenos Aires to board the refurbished train and meet Alicia Lindborn, matriarch of Lindborn Travel; British journalist Edgar Wolowitz; Todd Drucker, owner and editor of TD Travel; and Gabriela Garcia, owner of Hemispherio Travel. Almost from the opening whistle, the trip runs into trouble. As the train sits at the station in tiny Carmen de Patagones, a boiler in the engine explodes, sidelining the tour guide. A collapsing chimney seriously damages Jorge’s sleeping car. Most disturbing of all, Fanny, riding alone in the middle of nowhere after a frisky mount separates her from the group, comes upon a woman’s corpse. At least that’s what she says, though no one else can find the body she’s sworn was there. Has Fanny just drunk too much yerba maté? Is she rehearsing for TrippyGirl’s next highly fictionalized post? Or is her discovery just the rehearsal for a scene that will repeat the particulars of her awful moment hundreds of miles away?
TV writer/producer Conrad provides mild mother-daughter tussling, an ingenious and highly improbable mystery, and suspects so forgettable that the culprit is even easier to spot than that telltale corpse.