The death of a cosmetics sales rep upsets the latest adventure of a tour guide and her Golden Agers abroad.
Emily Andrew Miceli, co-owner of Destinations Travel Company, finds her deep reserves of patience tested as she herds a group of Midwestern seniors on a river cruise in France. At the D-Day tourist site on Normandy Beach, she encounters Jackie Thum, a beauty consultant who used to be Jack Potter, a man, and Emily’s first husband. Jackie and three fellow shills for a cosmetics company are on the cruise too, along with their employers, and they all seem as indifferent to the beauties of the country they’re exploring as Emily’s remarkably techno-savvy charges, who can barely look up from their electronic toys. While Emily’s trying to organize her tourists and distract them from their texting, she must also calm Jackie, who’s incensed that her colleagues are about to skunk her out of a cash prize. When a Texas beauty falls from one of the picturesque cliffs in Etretat, it looks like an accident, until a post-mortem reveals she was poisoned before she fell. A second poisoning, the discovery of an ex–Nazi collaborator, the secret of a fleur-de-lis ring and the possible resumption of an interrupted romance shake up Emily’s cruise but also offer some blessed relief from the tiresome bickering of the cartoonish biddies and geezers.
Although Hunter (Bonnie of Evidence, 2013, etc.) tries to balance whimsy and tragedy, the numerous red herrings and lame jokes will tax readers’ own reserves of patience with this travel cozy.