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Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick
Cover Artist: Ben Perini
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312679460
Date: 26 April 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

All her life, Jocelyn Shore has wanted to tour Egypt. After scrimping for years, the attractive high school teacher and her first cousin, Kyla Shore, embark on an Egyptian tour with WorldPal. While exploring the pyramids of Giza, one of Jocelyn's traveling companions, the nosy, pesky Millie Owens, is stabbed in the back of the neck. Soon afterwards, Jocelyn herself becomes the killer's target. With the help of Kyla and a dashing stranger, Allan Stratton, she manages to survive several attacks while endeavoring to unveil the killer's identity.

During her Egyptian tour, Jocelyn encounters hot, sweltering weather; ancient, crumbling ruins; rude, obnoxious traveling companions and a killer who repeatedly hits and beats her all the way. Who could ask for a more enjoyable vacation? At least I was laughing out loud when reading about Jocelyn's misadventures in Janice Hamrick's delightful cozy, Death on Tour. (While applying makeup prior to attending a costume party, Jocelyn asks her cousin, "What do you think? Egyptian royalty or cheap hooker?") From the opening pages, the reader is thrown headfirst into the mystery. Jocelyn's entire tour group is staring in shock at Millie's corpse lying in the dust. Since no one liked the snooping pest, the tour is quick to continue onward.

Egypt is a vast desert where it never rains, according to WorldPal's wonderful tour guide, Anni. In fact many inhabitants build homes without roofs, adding them later when they can afford them. Every day, Jocelyn and her companions traveled by plane or boat to a major attraction. They visited innumerable pyramids, obelisks and giant statues of kings, queens, and animals. (After this tour, I don't think I'd want to ever see another statue relating to death.) Egypt is a country dedicated to death; however, there are some beautiful man-made gardens. Everything and everyone was described in such believable detail that I felt I was also on the tour.

Egypt is the perfect country for a history teacher. However, I'm glad Jocelyn doesn't teach math at her Austin high school. Throughout the novel, she and her cousin could never add two and two together. Instead of referring to Fiona and Flora as the ditz duo, they should have been looking at themselves. Early on in the novel, I was able to identify the party responsible for the murders and I never was the brightest crayon in the box. The answer to Jocelyn's questions was practically staring her in the face the whole time. Perhaps being a little na´ve was part of her charm. Also, like Millie, Jocelyn is a little snoopy. However, at least she had a good reason; she's trying to find a killer.

Like an Agatha Christie novel, there are numerous subplots. Many of the major characters are living deceptive lives. Red herrings are also thrown in and there are several cases of mistaken identity. Most importantly, there is an abundance of romance. An uncomfortable love triangle exists between the down-to-earth Jocelyn, the worldly Kyla, and the mysterious Allan. Both women want him; however, Allan seems more attracted to Jocelyn. Or is he just using her for his own selfish, ulterior plans? Jocelyn, growing more paranoid each day, begins to suspect every one of participating in nefarious activities.

Janice Hamrick's debut mystery, Death on Tour, is highly recommended for those who love a charming, suspenseful, hilarious cozy with a happy, fairytale ending. (It's the perfect cozy for taking on vacation.) However, don't look for a mind-boggling mystery; I was not shocked when the killer's identity was finally revealed. (Maybe after reading a hundred of these novels, I'm getting better at solving mysteries.) I felt as though Death on Tour was written in homage to the great Agatha Christie. With that in mind, any fan of hers should be able to identify the killer on this Egyptian tour. Nevertheless, I found Hamrick's debut very enjoyable and look forward to reading more novels from this series. I hope each one takes place while Jocelyn is on tour in an exotic locale.

Other cozies that I found delightfully humorous are: Parnell Hall's The KenKen Killings, Laura DiSilverio's Swift Justice and Joelle Charbonneau's Skating Around the Law.

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