Murder Packs a Suitcase
Author : Cynthia Baxter
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
Publisher: Bantam (October 28, 2008)
Thanks to her new job as travel writer for the New York magazine The Good Life,recently widowed Mallory is zipping around Orlando, assigned to rediscover the glory days of “old Florida.” It’s the first of what she hopes will be many exciting adventures . . . but she’s about to discover that the Sunshine State has a dark side.
I'd previously read and enjoyed Cynthia Baxter's mysteries in the Reigning Cats & Dogs series, featuring vet-turned-sleuth Jessie Popper. This book marks the beginning of a new series, the Murder Packs a Suitcase mystery series, featuring travel writer Mallory Marlowe.
Baxter excels in creating a strong amateur sleuth / central female character whose inquisitiveness is only excelled by the complications she gets herself into. As usual, there's a plethora of red herrings which helps keep the investigation moving forwards. The mystery is a light-hearted one which seasoned mystery readers will easily guess at. Despite this, the journey towards the "whodunit" revelation is an enjoyable and entertaining one.
A large part of this is due to Mallory's assignment, which is discovering what's left of the "kitschy" Florida of the pre-Disneyfication days. This is a wonderful journey as readers accompany Mallory as she drives around Orlando and explores places like Gatorland, Shell World, Cypress Gardens and others on a journey of nostalgia. Having myself visited Florida long after Disneyfication, I had fun reading about Florida's 'good ole days', even though I hadn't heard of or visited the attractions which Mallory does and which, as research showed me, are all real places!
One of the other things I liked was how the various journalists on the press junket are all there to cover, and thus show to the readers, different aspects of Orlando tourism - from the perspective of the senior citizens, the budget-conscious traveler, the luxurious side of this colorful place and more. I just wish the author had shown how the other journalists made their articles relevant to their particular line of readers with some hints and tips. However we do get to read Mallory’s article for The Good Life, with tips and reviews of real Florida attractions.
All in all, an exotic and quirky read!
Or as Mallory would rate it -
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