Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Killer Cruise by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #8)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny with a decent mystery
Cons: I wasn't cruising while reading it.
The Bottom Line:
Vacation story
To enjoy on vacation
Or if you are home

It's the Perfect Cruise.  Except for the Stowaway and Murder, Of Course

The world of freelance writer Jaine Austen is a wild and wacky place.  In seven previous books, we've followed her through some funny situations and perilous murder cases.  I'm thrilled to say that the fun and clues continue while Jaine attempts to take a vacation in Killer Cruise.

Jaine has scored herself a working vacation, and she can't wait.  In exchange for three one hour classes on memoir writing, she gets a free week vacation on a Holiday Cruise Lines trip down the Mexico coast.  With dreams of 24 hour buffets in her head, she sets out.

But things turn disastrous before she even gets on board.  On the dock, Jaine discovers that her cat, Prozac, has snuck out of the house.  Since the ship won't survive a week with Prozac in quarantine, Jaine has to smuggle the stowaway into her tiny room on the Dungeon Deck (also known as the Paradise Deck, the place where all employees live).

Jaine beings to make friends with her neighbor, Cookie, and her dining companions, the Pritchard family.  But every night, the tension at the dinner table seems to build.  When a member of this extended group turns up dead, Jaine feels she must find the killer hiding among the passengers.  Who could it be?

The first part of the book is definitely in the light, fun variety.  There are several sub-plots that play out here while we are treated to information on the suspects and building tension.  These keep things hoping and the grins, if not outright laughs, coming.

Once the murder takes place, the sub-plots tend to take a back seat to Jaine's attempts to find the killer.  She's actually quite resourceful and adept at doing that, which means that the clues and red herrings come quite quickly here.  I thought I had the killer figured out pretty early, but it turned out I was dead wrong.

One of my favorite on going sub-plots is the e-mail exchanges with Jaine's parents.  In this book, they are in Los Angeles to house and pet sit (since Prozac wasn't supposed to stow away).  The havoc they wreck in Jaine's life provides some of the best laughs of the book.

Once again, the characters are real people just slightly exaggerated.  True, they seem real for this book.  But take them out of the book, and you'd see how some traits have been enhanced for comic effect.  But they work well for this story.  Trust me, you'll love them.

Some of the best laughs continue to come from the narration.  Jaine narrates the story first person, and her observations on what people were really thinking are great.  Even better are her interpretations of Prozac's looks and actions.

Jaine Austen is never heavy reading, and Killer Cruise is no exception to that rule.  But when you want a light read, this one will hit the spot.

While you can certainly read them in any order, here are the Jaine Austen Mysteries in order.

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