Dead Man Docking (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #21)by Mary Daheim
B&B hostess Judith McMonigle Flynn and her closer-than-a-sibling cousin Renie would be crazy to turn down a free, 1930s-themed South Pacific islands cruise aboard the magnificent San Rafael, the pride of the Cruz Cruises fleet. Unfortunately, the fabulous pre-launch party is as far out to sea as the passengers are likely to get, after the body of their VIP host,
B&B hostess Judith McMonigle Flynn and her closer-than-a-sibling cousin Renie would be crazy to turn down a free, 1930s-themed South Pacific islands cruise aboard the magnificent San Rafael, the pride of the Cruz Cruises fleet. Unfortunately, the fabulous pre-launch party is as far out to sea as the passengers are likely to get, after the body of their VIP host, Magglio Cruz, is discovered stuffed in the piano and the cruise is cancelled.
Suddenly free to gad about San Francisco with their marooned shipmates at least one of whom is possibly homicidal the cousins decide to join glamorous, martini-quaffing Rick and Rhoda St. George and their wheezy white pooch, Asthma, for a bit of amateur sleuthing. But the route to Magglio's murderer may not be such smooth sailing. And if Judith, Renie, and the St. Georges aren't careful, they may all end up leaving their hearts in San Francisco . . . and the rest of their mortal remains as well!
Read an Excerpt
Dead Man Docking
Judith McMonigle Flynn winced, flinched, and grimaced as she held the phone as far as possible from her ear. Cousin Renie was screaming obscenities at the other end and throwing in an occasional death threat. Unable to listen any longer, Judith severed the connection.
A minute later, she was swallowing two aspirin when the phone rang again. Reluctantly, Judith answered.
"What happened'" Renie asked in a more normal voice. "We got cut off."
"I hung up," Judith replied. "Your ranting gave me a headache."
"You have a headache'" Renie shot back, her words climbing several decibels. "How about me' I've never been fired before in my life."
"Cruz Cruises didn't exactly fire you," Judith pointed out. "Moving their corporate offices to San Francisco means you can't have your usual hands-on control of their design work.You've still got plenty of clients. And," she warned, "if you start yelling again I'll hang up again."
Renie, known to the professional world as Serena Jones of CaJones Graphic Design, snarled into the phone. "Okay, okay. But they were a big source of my income with all those cruise magazines and hefty brochures and other promos that require artwork. I'm calling Bill's brother Bub and telling him to sue the pants off of Cruz Cruises. It won't cost me a dime, because Bub's such a good guy when it comes to family. If Magglio Cruz looks him up in Martindale-Gobble or whatever the ABA reference book is called, he'll see Bub has really impressive credentials."
Judith was aware that Bub Jones -- whose real name was Millard -- had had a very successful career as the senior partnerin a large local law firm. Bub was also a man of integrity, despite his one eccentricity, which was wearing wigs to cover his baldness. Bub owned an office wig, a golf wig, a party wig, a trial wig, and a picnic wig.At home, he wore a baseball cap Renie had given him as a Christmas present many years earlier. The cap bore the words WISH YOU WERE HAIR.
"Good luck," Judith said to Renie.
Setting the phone down on the kitchen counter, Judith gazed out through the window above the sink. It was raining, typical Pacific Northwest March weather. It had been raining since November with only an occasional glimpse of sun and one brief January snowfall to break the monotony. Even a native like Judith yearned for a clear day.
Her dark eyes roamed to the reservation book she kept next to the computer. Only two of Hillside Manor B&B's six rooms would be occupied on this Wednesday night. There were three reservations for Thursday, but all of the rooms were booked through the weekend, thanks to St. Patrick's Day falling on Monday. The rest of next week looked thin. Maybe she could take time out to get her hair dyed.
Joe Flynn wandered into the kitchen, seeking a coffee refill.
Judith ran her fingers though her silver-streaked tresses. "I'm thinking about having some blond highlights put in at Chez Steve's Salon.Would you like that'"
"As opposed to this last dye job that makes you look like a skunk'" Joe nodded. "Yes, you'd look terrific with a touch of shimmering gold." He kissed her forehead. "What gave you that idea'"
"It worked wonders for Kristin," she said, referring to their daughter-in-law, who had somehow resolved a personal crisis the previous June by changing her hair color. "Maybe," Judith went on, "it'll pep me up. I'm running on fumes these days."
Judith had started to turn gray in her late teens, just as her mother had done. She'd dyed her hair for years, but after her first husband, Dan McMonigle, died, she'd let the black grow out, and had been silver-haired since her forties.Years passed before Renie finally convinced Judith that she'd look much better with at least some of her original color. Never one to make changes easily, Judith allowed almost another decade to pass before she heeded her cousin's advice. But now she was ready for an even more drastic transformation.
"Why don't you lighten up all your hair'" Joe suggested. "Maybe go brunette, close to your natural color."
Judith knew what Joe really meant. He was right -- gold and raven hair might look harsh in middle age. Not wanting to give herself the chance to change her mind, Judith dialed the salon's number and made an appointment for nine o'clock the following Tuesday.
As the days passed by -- still raining, and with occasional gusty winds -- Judith began to get excited about her new look.A few more reservations trickled in. She kept busy, and it was Saturday afternoon before she realized she hadn't heard from Renie.They usually spoke to each other at least once a day.They were both only children, and had grown up more like sisters than cousins.
Just before preparing the appetizers for the guests' social hour, Judith dialed Renie's number. The voice that answered on the other end was almost unrecognizable.
"Is that you, coz'" she asked, knowing it couldn't be Bill since he hated the telephone as much as Judith's mother did.
"I'm pouting," Renie replied. "I've been pouting since Wednesday."
"You can really pout," Judith said, "but you usually don't do it for more than a day.What's wrong now'"
"The same thing that was wrong when I last talked to you," Renie retorted. "That damned cruise line. I haven't heard back since I threatened them with Bub."
"It's only been two full working days," Judith pointed out. "They have to check with their Suits in response to your Suit."
"My Wig, you mean," Renie corrected. "I always refer to Bub as my Wig, not my Suit."Dead Man Docking. Copyright © by Mary Daheim. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Mary Richardson Daheim is a Seattle native with a communications degree from the University of Washington. Realizing at an early age that getting published in books with real covers might elude her for years, she worked on daily newspapers and in public relations to help avoid her creditors. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim is also the author of the Alpine mystery series, the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
"What have I done?" She whispered, staring at the empty space where Scarlet was.
I was looking for some light reading, which is what I found, but the characters were a bit odd and two characters had names so similar that I had to stop each time to check who was being spoken about. I picked this up because it was referenced by Anne George, who's series I loved. Not sure I'll stick with this series.
My first read of this author. Too frequently during the journey I thought she had slipped into writing script for a play. Plot interesting enough, but dialogue and stage setting a bit over the top!
Judith needs a break from managing her B&B and dealing with her abrasive mother. Her cousin Renie provides the perfect escape: a cruise with a 1930s theme, courtesy of a client. But disaster strikes before they even leave the port in San Francisco. Renie's client and cruise line owner, Magglio Cruz, is murdered during the party thrown to kick off the stylish maiden voyage of his new ship. Renie, fearful for her job, drags Judith into an investigation. But as the body count continues to rise in an alarming fashion among their fellow shipmates, they feel compelled to compare notes with fellow amateur sleuths Rick and Rhoda St. George. The St. Georges provide martini-marinated local expertise, while Judith and Renie follow their well-honed instincts. It's a race to the finish: find the killer before all of the landlocked cruise-goers turn up dead. Daheim has a long-established series in the Bed & Breakfast mysteries, so I really hope there are better places to start than this latest offering. Unpleasant and largely cartoonish characters made it hard to identify with anyone. The unlikely coincidence of Judith's presence near almost every death got pretty tiring as well. The interplay between the two sets of amateur sleuths was slightly interesting, however, I found myself wanting to ditch Judith and Renie to follow the soused St. Georges instead. Way too abrasive for a cozy mystery, and not quite over-the-top enough for an outright spoof ¿ Dead Man Docking is a good enough mystery to want to find out whodunit, but it's not an enjoyable journey at all.
In San Francisco Serene ¿Renie¿ Jones of Cajones Graphic Design tells her cousin Judith McGonicle Flynn that she is going to get her Uncle Bob to sue Cruz Cruises for breech of contract. Not long afterward, Renie informs her cuz that CEO Magglio Cruz settled rather than face a court case. To sweeten the settlement Renie and her spouse psychiatrist Dr. Bill will go on a cruise trip for free. Coincidently, Judith mentions that she and her spouse Joe were thinking of taking a week off from their B&B......................... However, Bill becomes tied up with a patient threatening to jump from a ledge so Renie persuades Judith to accompany her. Before they can leave town, someone murders Magglio. Unable to resist the investigating of the homicide over the objections of their spouses and the cops, Renie and Judith make inquiries as two more people are killed and the two cousins could be at the top of the list if they continue to sleuth........................ The latest Bed and Breakfast mystery is a well written amateur sleuth tale in which the cousins begin their inquiries towards the middle of the plot, but once they start nothing including their concerned spouses can stop these resolute obstinate detectives. The 1930s décor to the cruise vessel adds a feel of suspense to the investigation. As usual Renie and Judith behave in their typical fashion with the former charging into situations where only fools dare go while the latter follows praying that the next escapade will not occur for quite awhile. Mary Daheim serves up another charming B&B who-done-it................ Harriet Klausner