A cruise proves to be no dream vacation for an Oklahoma sheriff.
After he wins a seven-day cruise to Puerto Rico, Milt Kovak, his wife, Dr. Jean McDonnell, their son Johnny Mac and his best friend Early Rollins set out for Galveston, where they board the ship. Milt’s thoughts of a romantic trip vanish when he realizes that their suite is tiny and open. But he enjoys the food and the whole experience until the children get in trouble: They’re sucked into a group led by dishonest, bullying teen Joshua Weaver, whose idea of fun is pushing the kids to steal things aboard and ashore. When a drunk who’s just made a killing at the casino is attacked and his money stolen, he accuses Johnny, Early and a few of their friends, who found him passed out. Meantime, more trouble is brewing back in Prophesy County. A spouse killer recently released from prison is shot dead, and the list of suspects includes his wife’s entire family. So, naturally, Milt’s deputy makes many calls asking him for advice. Matters worsen considerably back on the ship when Joshua is found strangled, his body hidden in a lifeboat. Then one of the passengers is poisoned in front of Milt and his new shipboard friends. Milt teams up with the head of security, who’s innocent of any experience with murder, to apprehend a determined killer.
Despite a few twists, Cooper’s latest is neither as complex nor as interesting as some of her former entries (Husband and Wives, 2012, etc.) featuring the tough but good-hearted Milt.