As an avid cruiser, I couldn’t resist reading a book with the delightful title Killer Cruise. Add to that, it was written by author Marilyn Baron, one of my favorite writers, and it was almost pre-destined I would dive into the story.
This was my introduction to the psychic detectives of the “psychic crystal” series. Jack Hale, a former Atlanta police detective, and his new wife, “Crystal Ball Kate” are hired to investigate a threat made to a European Banking conference on a two-week transatlantic cruise. Joining them are Kate’s mother, Juliette, and a police chief from Florida, Will Bradley. To avoid suspicion Juliette and Will are encouraged to pretend they are a married couple. While Will seems enthusiastic about the plan, Juliette is not. In fact, she is often annoyed by Will and his constant advances. It’s obvious from the beginning Will is very attracted to Juliette. I particularly like the fact that Juliette is an older woman since I’m an older woman who found my soul mate later in life.
The captain of the ship takes the group on a tour of the ship, filling them in on all the facts of maintaining the floating hotel. It’s apparent that Baron has done her research on cruise ships as the facts about the ship are related in great detail. The reader also learns that Juliette has a troubled past. She’d been in a bad relationship with a controlling lover, Reverend Carter Coulter, and had been separated from daughter Kate for many years. They are just beginning to reconnect.
Both Juliette and Kate are psychic and feel there will be a murder on the ship. Soon a greater mystery sets the quartet on a different investigation. While touring the ship the women visit the art gallery where auctions are conducted at the conclusion of the voyage. Kate tells her mother she studied art history and had worked in an art gallery. As they look at some of the paintings they are interrupted by a man who introduces himself as Wade Randall. Something about him seems “eerily familiar” and “evil”. While perusing the paintings Kate realizes they are authentic works of art by well-known artists. In fact, she suspects one of the paintings had been stolen from a museum. She confronts the art dealer who reassures her they don’t deal in stolen works of art.
Juliette is left with an uncomfortable feeling and after speaking with the ship’s captain they learn there is no one onboard named Wade Randall. Then a dead body turns up but it isn’t the mysterious Randall. Along with the murder, the valuable art has disappeared. Has the mystery man found a way off the cruise ship taking the paintings with him?
What follows is an intricate story that links Juliette’s past with the present. There are romantic scenes between Jack and Kate, and Will keeps up his pursuit of Juliette adding a delightful lightheartedness to the story. However, when the ship docks in Bermuda things grow dark and there are twists and turns that left me reading frantically. Baron describes Bermuda so beautifully I plan to visit there myself.
Baron does a neat job of building both sexual tension as well as chilling suspense. The climax is totally unexpected and leaves the reader with a desire to know more. Although many of the mysteries are solved, new questions arise. I am eager to read the next book in the series. Although this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone, I recommend starting with the first book in the series. It’s an easy but interesting read, well-paced, and populated with fascinating characters.