In the launch of Henderson’s debut mystery series, an investigative reporter should have listened to her psychic neighbor who warned her, “Don’t go” on her Caribbean vacation.
Burned-out journalist Eve Wade is eager to leave behind the Cleveland winter and “the most depressing investigations of her career.” She accepts an offer of a free Caribbean cruise in exchange for writing a story about her travel experience. Mike Gardino, cruise director for the struggling cruise ship line, figures that “few writers risked becoming too critical for fear of missing out on future invitations.” No sooner is Wade on board than her reporter’s instincts kick in: Why do married couple Flo and Tony who profess to be from Chicago speak with New York accents? Does Gardino have a drinking problem? Is fellow passenger Jerry Addison really a Canadian travel writer (she’s never heard of his publication), or does he have a more sinister agenda? “Curiosity sometimes can be a dangerous thing,” he ominously cautions her early on. Wade’s promise to herself to “stop being a snoopy reporter” and enjoy the cruise will be broken when she finds a couple fatally shot in her cabin. The suspects mount as Wade joins in the frantic investigation while Gardino and the ship’s captain try to keep the whole “murderer is still on the ship” thing under wraps. Henderson, a journalist, has supplied her book with an arresting lede: “A collision seemed inevitable.” Readers will enjoy Wade’s immersion in life-threatening peril, “adrift clinging to the side of a sinking boat,” as she wonders how a junket could have gone so horribly wrong. Henderson efficiently gets us from here to there, but the writing could be much snappier. Exposition is often clumsy; Eve notices on one of Gardino’s one-night stands “a light-colored circle around [her] left ring finger that had not yet been eradicated by her tan, and she wondered if some of Candy’s sexual pursuits and banter were attempts to cover a recent painful split.”
A serviceable lido deck companion.