Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Blake Pierce - Death and Apple Strudel

When London Rose, 33, is proposed to by her long-time boyfriend, she realizes she is facing a stable, predictable, pre-determined (and passionless) life. She freaks out and runs the other way—accepting instead a job across the Atlantic, as a tour-guide on a high-end European cruise line that travels through a country a day. London is searching for a more romantic, unscripted and exciting life that she feels sure exists out there somewhere.
London is elated: the European river towns are small, historic and charming. She gets to see a new port every night, gets to sample an endless array of new cuisine and meet a stream of interesting people. It is a traveler’s dream, and it is anything but predictable.
In Book 2, DEATH (AND APPLE STRUDEL), the cruise takes them into Vienna and Salzburg, home of Mozart and the birthplace of music, and all seems picture-perfect. Until, that its, their tour guide turns up dead after giving the passengers a tour of Mozart’s theatre. Suspicion falls on them. Who could have killed her? And why?
Laugh-out-loud funny, romantic, endearing, rife with new sights, culture and food, DEATH (AND APPLE STRUDEL) offers a fun and suspenseful trip through the heart of Europe, anchored in an intriguing mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the very last page.

Comment: This is the second installment in the European Voyage series by Blake Pierce. Although the first book wasn't as amazing as I would have wanted, this second one is set in Austria, a country I want to visit one day, and I was looking for to learn the information which certainly would be included about it.

In this second novel, the cruise arrives in Austria and immediately something happens, a passenger claims something was stolen from his cabin. London can't seem to find the stolen object and later on, something else disappears but is quickly found,meaning less importance is given to the original theft. At the same time, the cruise owner sends up an investigator, so London doesn't have to go out of her cruise duties to investigate murders, but that proves to be too difficult to accomplish when a tour guide in Salzburg is killed after a tour he gave to the cruise's group... will London find the killer?

I didn't have much of a doubt on how this book would be like, but having finished, it's pretty obvious the author's style is easy, quick, without much complexity. I suppose I'd say the most intricate segment is how she will manage to keep some mystery going, but I can now see how: this second story takes place the day after what we read on the first book, meaning the time between books is minimal, and whatever happens to the heroine will certainly be dealt with in a very quick succession.

In this story we learn a little more on her family history and on why traveling in Europe is bringing back memories for her. I can imagine the goal might be to make her travel in the cruise, while dealing with the every day aspects of her job, here and there solving some murder, but at the core of the series is her search, literal and figurative, of her mother, who left without a word. This is actually an intriguing element and now I confess I feel intrigued enough to probably finish the series but it is still quite a flaw how under developed all characters are.

I don't think the author's goal here was to create an intricate web of character's connections or personalities and it shows. Everything about them is practical, superficial, only there to carry things from one idea to the other. But I admit I'm used to more in the books I like the most and here this feels like a flaw. I guess readers who like the genre more (cozy mysteries) will say this is the way it is, otherwise it wouldn't labeled as such, but in the end, I just feel we only were given the practical aspects of why these people are there, not much why they are that way.

The initial theft is a situation that follows the plot throughout the end and when we learn who the thief is, I must say it was ridiculous but possible.... 
Then there's the Salzburg tour guide, who dies after a tour. This is solved very quickly, actually, although in a very interesting way. I think my biggest criticism is how does one truly believes some police officer or detective in any police force would allow London to be so nosy and do/ask questions of people that easily...

In a way, these stories are a little like a cruise: meant to entertain, to amuse or to allow us to spend a while without serious concerns in our heads. By the way, I liked the kind of things we learn the passengers do and I certainly wouldn't mind one day going on a cruise myself! I loved the mentions of Vienna and Salzburg sightings, of some of the things one could do there and some of the history of the buildings/places the characters visit. I think it was specific enough for those scenes that one doesn't feel this is touristic info dumped here, I felt the author did a good job planning and summarizing which content to include. I really want to go there one day!

All things considered, I can't say this was such a great book, but the sum of the parts made it good enough to make me want to know what will happen next. 
Grade: 6/10

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