Tinker’s Cove’s star reporter Lucy Stone (Wicked Witch Murder, 2010, etc.) and three chums take an action-packed trip to England.
Although her daughter Elizabeth’s final year at Chamberlain College poses financial challenges for the Stone family, Lucy can’t resist a bargain: only $2,000 (including airfare) for a nine-day study-abroad run by nearby Winchester University. Sue Finch talks Pennysaver editor Ted Stillings into giving Lucy time off. After all, Ted’s wife Pam is going along too. So is mutual friend Rachel Goodman. The tour gets off to a slightly rocky start, since its leader, George Temple, dies of anaphylaxis on the plane ride over. But after a brief interview with John Neal of the Metropolitan Police, it’s all good. The friends set off, along with Autumn, Jennifer, Caroline and Will, the four Winchester students, Jennifer’s granddad, Caroline’s folks and Will’s mom, for the Desmond Hotel, where Lucy promptly e-mails the college president asking for a replacement for Temple. (Her mobile doesn’t work overseas, and London hotels evidently have no phones.) While they wait for a reply, Sue takes her friends shopping in Portobello Road. Come Monday morning, Quentin Rea arrives to take over as tour leader. Energetic Rea takes the group to Hampton Court, Brighton, Bath, Salisbury and Stonehenge. But he poses complications for Lucy, who during her student years was drawn into a not-quite-improper relationship with the literature professor. As their travels unfold, their relationship heats up, until a series of half-overheard conversations and near-miss accidents persuades Lucy that George Temple’s death was no accident.
Short on sense but long on scenery, Lucy’s 19th is best suited for those in search of a quick glide through England’s top tourist attractions.