In Nancy Fairbanks's eighth Culinary Mystery, 40-something food columnist Carolyn Blue's Mother's Day gift -- a trip aboard a gourmet cruise ship touring Spanish and North African ports -- turns out to be anything but relaxing.
After finding out that her husband can't accompany her on the trip, Carolyn asks her friend Luz Vallejo, an irrascible retired police lieutenant, to join her. But unbeknownst to her, Carolyn's husband has already invited his mother, an abrasive feminist who doesn't exactly get along with her daughter-in-law. Not wanting to make waves, Carolyn decides to share her suite with both women. The cruise seems doomed from the start as Luz's luggage gets lost and Carolyn's mother-in-law commandeers the master bedroom and its luxurious bathtub. Forced to share a bathroom the size of a telephone booth with the potty-mouthed Luz, Carolyn tries to make the best of the situation -- even as her mother-in-law insinuates that she's getting overly friendly with Owen Griffith, a popular author and "international adventurer." But when a passenger goes missing and is later found in the meat freezer, Carolyn vows to solve the murder -- only to stumble headlong into a conspiracy between a group of crew members plotting to hijack the ship.
Featuring numerous mouthwatering dessert recipes (strawberry bonbons, double chocolate raspberry mousse, Canary Island key lime pie, et al.) this latest installment of the Culinary Mystery saga serves up more of what Fairbanks is renowned for -- fast-paced, lighthearted amateur sleuth mysteries that are as laugh-out-loud funny as they are wildly entertaining. Paul Goat Allen