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Death on the Aegean Queen by Maria Hudgins
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594148620
Date: 19 May 2010 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Death on the Aegean Queen is the third of Maria Hudgin's Dotsy Lamb Travel Mysteries. This time Dotsy, accompanied by her friends Lottie and Ollie Osgood, takes an Aegean cruise. Marco Quattrochi, the handsome Italian Carabinieri captain, she met three years before (in Death of an Obnoxious Tourist) joins them. Recovering from a failed marriage, Dotsy can't decide whether to encourage Marco or not. Late their first evening, Dotsy and Kathryn Gaskill, a new acquaintance, look for George, Kathryn's husband, when he fails to return from a poker game with Ollie and two other men. George took the entire poker pot. When Dotsy and Kathryn find a pool of blood in an outside area, they suspect foul play. Dotsy calls Marco to investigate.

The ship's security officer believes the killer threw George overboard. Because of the poker game, Ollie becomes chief suspect and Dotsy rallies to save him. Lottie has a photographic memory and tries to help Dotsy and Marco find the real murderer.

Things grow even more complicated when one of the dancers turns out to be a young woman who as a teenager accused George of sexual abuse. He lost his job and was labeled as a sexual predator despite his insistence he was innocent. However, she has an alibi.

When the ship's photographer is brutally knifed and killed, Dotsy is convinced it relates to George's disappearance. Had the man seen something, or was it just a thief in the alley?

The ship has a number of artifacts that Dotsy and Dr. Luc Girard, an archeologist and guest lecturer, believe may have been stolen from museums. Some of the items are priceless. Are the ship's owners or crew smuggling the items to safe locations for sale to collectors?

Marco has been investigating art thefts and smuggling rings in Italy. When he leaves the cruise to get more information, Dotsy isn't sure he didn't leave because she rebuffed him. Remorse sets in and she fears her romance has sunk.

An exciting climax takes Dotsy and her friends up a steep cliffside trail hunting for the thieves of stolen artifacts and the killer of the ship's photographer. They try to save the priceless items and capture the thieves while not letting the killer escape.

Hudgins, using Dotsy background in art history and the Mediterranean cruisem, blends the hunt for a killer with international art thefts. However, she plays fair with the readers even when Dotsy misreads the clues and jumps to the wrong conclusions. The warm relationship between Dotsy and Lottie continues, although Lottie plays a small part here. Two earlier Dotsy Lamb novels, Death of a Lovable Geek and Death of an Obnoxious Tourist preceded Death on the Aegean Queen.

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