Hy Conrad, author of Mr. Monk books and Monk TV writer has made a career out of light mystery, earning a Scribe Award and garnering three Edgar nominations. Along the way, he developed a horde of popular games and interactive films, hundreds of short stories and a dozen books of solvable mysteries, published in over a dozen different languages. In the world of TV, he is best known for his eight seasons as a writer and co-executive producer for the ground-breaking series "Monk." I was overjoyed to have him as a guest blogger (click here) discussing the difference between TV Monk and the book Monk.
But, today I am reviewing a new book series by Mr. Conrad. It is the debut novel of Amy's Travel Mysteries. When I stumbled across this new series, I as delighted and had to read it. Library finds are like discovering treasure tucked away. See what you think.
Copyright: January 2015 (Kensington) 320 pgs
Series: 1st in Amy's Travel Mystery series
Sensuality: mild kissing and adult topics
Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth
Main Characters: Amy Abel, Widow and owner of Amy's Travel Agency and
Coordinator of mystery-themed European road rally
Setting: Modern day, Europe and New York
Obtained Through: Library Find
The Amazing Race meets Clue, where you race from Monte Carlo to Rome following clues to a mystery, attempting to be the first to solve the crime. Amy Abel is taking a huge chance on this concept for her travel agency, but it combines her love of mysteries and the one thing she cherished with her deceased husband - travel. The man who wrote the entire mystery road rally, Otto Ingo, is killed in his home in NY and Amy finds out that the script is all based on a true murder that is still unsolved...and two people on the trip were part of the original murder five years ago.
Add in an attempt on a participant's life, rooms being ransacked, and another murder and Amy has her hands full. One of the travel companions is the only suspect for the murder in Rome, and Amy is convinced they have the wrong person. Plus a rogue who charms her and her pushy mother with a cast of fellow mystery buffs and its enough to give a girl a migraine. At the back of the book are several great travel tips.
Amy Abel is timid and learning to stand up for herself, so the events on the trip and back at home with her mother test her new-found resolve. Fanny is like Marie Barone of "Everybody Loves Raymond," annoying and comical at times. Although, Amy really needs to set some serious boundaries there. Marcus Alvarez is the charming rogue who opts for a lie when the truth would do, and then doesn't understand why Amy doesn't trust him. The Murder Mystery tour has twenty four guests, but only a handful are key to the story and it is easy to follow the characters.
The first two-fifths take place in Europe, highlighting charming and historical spots, the rest unfolds in New York with a side trip to New Jersey. Descriptions add to the vacation theme without slowing down the story. The plot is a cleaver concept and perfect for an exotic cozy. The pacing was steady and kept me turning pages.
The climax is an opportunity for Amy to shine in the midst of danger. I do have to comment that almost all the scenes are from Amy's view point, but approaching the climatic killer reveal (nicely done) Marcus gets a long section from his view point. Although I understand why that was done for the sake of showing some developments, it seemed to lessen Amy's role in the climax, which is critical. The wrap-up leaves a perfect door open for further adventures and I am looking forward to them.
Leave it to Hy Conrad to pull off this quirky concept with panache! Characters to draw you in and an interesting story told with deceptive ease. This is a definite beach read to keep you entertained during your own travels, or as an armchair tourist.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list
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