I have been reading books since the early 1950s and reviewing/posting the reviews for the past decade. I do not know how I missed Blake Pierce for all of those years. I have just read book one in the European Voyage Cozy Mystery series entitled Murder (and Baklava). It has two components that I am very fond of – baklava (a dessert) and European travel. It is also a very good mystery with compelling characters. The author wrote and published nearly 100 books, mostly in genres I like to read. Why have I not heard of Blake before now?
London Rose is the protagonist of this series. Until this story begins, London had been a hostess/cruise director on ocean going cruise ships owned by Epoch World Cruise Line. While on a break, her boyfriend, Ian Mitchell, proposes “a merger” between them. London’s sister had arranged their first date over a year earlier and she is all for “the merger.” At that point, a bombshell is dropped into London’s life.
Jeremy Lapham, owner of Epoch, offers London a new position (and a promotion): Cruise Director of his newest ship, Nachtmusik. This is the first of Epoch’s new European River cruise ships. He has sold off his ocean liners for financial reasons. His only hope to stay in business is a successful inaugural river cruise. London agrees. Ian terminates his “merger” proposal.
London flies to Budapest where she joins the crew of Nachtmusik on its premiere two-week cruise up the Danube to the Rhine. That is one of my bucket list items to do. On board, London renews her friendship with Elsie Sloan, chief bartender. She meets her top assistant Amy Blasingame (the concierge), who Elsie calls “the river troll.” Amy wanted the job London was given.
Among the other staff of the ship is Emil Waldmuller, who is the ship’s historian, and Bryce Yeaton, the head chef and medical advisor. Of course, there is a ship’s captain as well. In addition, there are other crew members on board.
On her first day in Budapest, London organizes a city tour and dinner (at Duna Etterem) with about ten cruisers and a couple of other staff. One of the guests, Mrs. Klimoski, whom all dislike, flaunts her wealth, is obnoxious and carries in a bag her champion Yorkshire terrier Sir Reginald Taft. At the café where they go to for dinner, their waiter makes a fuss about the dog. A stranger, an economics professor smooths things out. He also recommends a restaurant, Magyar Orom, in Gyor, the next stop on the cruise.
The next day, London organizes a city tour in Gyor for the same group with lunch at the recommended restaurant. Another confrontation takes place with a strolling street violinist. Afterwards, Mrs. Klimoski disappears with her dog. The dog returns to the café and starts barking at the cruisers. London follows the dog to the cathedral. She goes inside and finds the dog’s owner sitting in a pew. However, Mrs. Klimoski is dead. Enter the local police who start an investigation. The ship’s departure is to be delayed until the case is solved. London’s boss says to her, “Solve the case.” Which she does with help of the dog and a sunflower.
This is a fun book with a clever murder/murderer woven into the fabric of the story. Fans of mysteries and travel will enjoy this. I plan to read the other five in this series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
GO! BUY! READ!
–Jim Harris, retired book sales rep
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